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Pakistan says it’s waiting for India’s official word to open up its airspace

A govt official in Lahore said that Pakistan will follow suit once the Indian govt lifts the air restriction on Pakistan's flights.

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Lahore: Pakistan said on Sunday that there was no official communication with India about the opening of the airspace and Islamabad will wait for New Delhi’s decision to lift the air restriction on its flights before taking a final call on lifting its airspace ban.

Pakistan has already indicated that it may lift the airspace ban along its eastern border with India, imposed on 27 February after the Balakot airstrike, to reciprocate India’s decision to remove all restrictions on all air routes in the Indian airspace.

“We have already opened this point, Telem (near Ahmedabad), about two months ago, for India. It was India that has to open it now, enabling the flights to use this airspace,” the Pakistani government official told PTI.

He said since there is no official communication between the two countries in this respect taken place yet “we will see what Notam (notice to airmen) it (India) issues today.”

When asked about opening of other around 10 routes (points), the official said: “Once the Indian government lifts the air restriction on Pakistani flights on these routes, Pakistan will certainly follow suit.”

It is expected that these points will gradually be opened this month.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) Friday said that temporary restrictions on all air routes in the Indian airspace, imposed by it on 27 February, have been removed.

The IAF said it had removed restrictions that were imposed on all routes a day after its 12 Mirage 2000s crossed over to Pakistan and conducted air strikes in Balakot. Pakistan fully closed its airspace on 27 February.

On 27 March, Pakistan opened its airspace for all flights except for New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. On 30 May, Pakistan extended its airspace ban for flights to India till 15 June.

As a result of the ban, foreign carriers using Indian airspace have been forced to take costly detours because they cannot fly over Pakistan. The closure mainly affects flights from Europe to Southeast Asia. The flights from Europe and the US flying in and out of New Delhi have been the worst hit.

Since Pakistan’s airspace closure, the airfare on many routes have gone up significantly, including Delhi-Kabul, Delhi-Moscow, Delhi-Tehran and Delhi-Astana.

Two Indian airline companies, Air India and SpiceJet, have already stopped their Delhi-Kabul flights due to Pakistan airspace closure.

Pakistan had given a special permission to India for then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to fly directly through Pakistani airspace to attend the SCO meet in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on 21 May. However, the airspace for other commercial airliners remains closed.

Also read: Pakistan airspace ban for Indian aircraft extended to 14 June


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