Sanjay Singh/ New Delhi
Pakistan which would review its airspace ban for Indian flights tomorrow is unlikely to give a formal clearance before the formation of the new government at New Delhi.
Pakistan had closed its airspace for Indian commercial carriers on February 26 after the Indian Air Force (IAF) launched a pre-emptive air strike on February 26 at a terror camp in Balakot camp across Line-of-Control (LoC). Pakistan partially reopened its air space a month later on March 27 for all flights but restricted flights from New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
On Sunday, news agencies quoting Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesperson Mujtaba Baig reported that the Pakistani government will decide on complete reopening of its airspace ban for the Indian flights on May 15.
“The decision on lifting of ban or not on the Pakistani airspace ‘operational and overflying’ for India will be taken at a high level meeting on May 15. The decision will be notified any time on May 15,” Baig had said. However, agencies reported quoting Pakistan’s Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who was of the view that he does not see the opening of its airspace for India till the conclusion of elections 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 are over and a new government is installed. The ban on airspace by each other I think will also continue till Indian polls,” Chaudhry said.
Closure of Pakistan’s airspace has resulted in massive losses to commercial airlines, especially the Indian commercial carriers like Air India, as they have to take a longer route, which not only burns more fuel but also delays an aircraft by over an hour.
According to airline sources, Air India has suffered losses of over Rs 300 crore ever since the closure of Pakistan’s airspace since February 26 this year. Ever since then, long-haul flights of Air India from New Delhi to Europe Gulf, US and other destinations have to be diverted around the Pakistani airspace.