Pakistan Reopens Airspace to Civil Aviation

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Pakistan recently reopened its airspace to international civil aviation after months of restrictions imposed because of clashes with India, which forced long detours that cost airlines millions of dollars, Reuters reported.

“Pakistan airspace is open for all types of civil traffic on published ATS (Air Traffic Service) routes,” according to a so-called Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) published on the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority’s website shortly after midnight.

Pakistan lies on an important aviation corridor, and the decision offers a welcome break for international airlines.

The restrictions, imposed in February, affected hundreds of commercial and cargo flights each day, adding flight time for passengers and fuel costs for airlines.

India’s ministry of civil aviation said there were now no restrictions on airspace in either country.

“Flights have started using the closed air routes, bringing a significant relief for airlines,” it said.

Pakistan closed its airspace after an attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Indian-controlled Kashmir led to clashes between the nuclear-armed powers.

Each country carried out air strikes on the other’s territory and warplanes fought a dogfight above the disputed Kashmir region in which an Indian fighter jet was shot down.

Partial operations at Pakistani airports resumed once the immediate crisis passed but restrictions continued to affect many international carriers.

Flights between Europe and Southeast Asia were forced further south, which added as much as 450 km (280 miles) to some journeys and forced the cancellation of some routes.