Lahore: Pakistan will review reopening of its airspace for Indian flights, May 15 amid heightened Indo-Pak military tensions, a civil aviation official said Sunday, but a senior minister indicated that the status quo will remain till the elections are over in India.
Pakistan fully closed its airspace after an Indian Air Force strike February 26 on a terror camp in Balakot. However, Pakistan opened March 27 its airspace for all flights except for New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.
“The Pakistani government will decide whether to lift or not its airspace ban for the Indian flights, May 15,” Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesperson Mujtaba Baig told this agency, Sunday. ‘The officials and ministers of all ministries concerned will participate and a decision will be taken about lifting of ban or not on the Pakistani airspace ‘operational and overflying’ for India. The decision will be notified any time May 15,” Baig added.
However, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s close aide and federal science and technology minister Fawad Chaudhry said he doesn’t see any change in the status quo till conclusion of Lok Sabha polls in India.
“Status quo will remain till the elections are over in India. I don’t see any improvement in relations between Pakistan and India till the elections is over and a new government is installed. The ban on airspace by each other I think will also continue,” Chaudhry told PTI.
Owing to the ban on its airspace by India, Pakistan has suspended its operation for Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur which is causing a loss of millions of rupees per day. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) used to operate four flights to Kuala Lumpur, two to Bangkok and two to New Delhi.
“We are not only facing the huge financial loss but also losing our passengers to other airlines,” a senior PIA official said, adding that this matter should now be resolved. “If land and rail routes are operational between Pakistan and India, what’s wrong with the air route,” the official questioned.
Pakistan in mid-April had opened one of its 11 air routes for west-bound flights from India and airlines such as Air India and Turkish Airlines have started using it. The operating cost for Air India, which flies to destinations in Europe and the US, reportedly has increased significantly as it had to take longer routes due to closure of Pakistan airspace.