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Pakistan opens its airspace five months after closing it in aftermath of Balakot airstrikes

File photo of Pakistan International Airline. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team New Delhi Jul 16, 2019, 10.18 AM (IST)

Pakistan has decided to open its airspace for 'all type of civil traffic' with immediate effect making a sort of climbdown from its July 12 stance that it would not do so until India withdraws all its fighter planes from the Indo-Pak border.

The flying restrictions which were imposed after its standoff with India in February this year after Pulwama terror attack and subsequent aerial strike by Indian Air Force, according to reports.

Partial operations at Pakistani airports resumed once tensions eased but restrictions continued to affect many international carriers using Pakistani airspace.

Pakistan lies in the middle of a vital aviation corridor and the airspace restrictions affected hundreds of commercial and cargo flights each day, adding to flight time for passengers and fuel costs for airlines.

Watch: Pakistan opens airspace for all civilian traffic

The announcement came hours after United Airlines Holdings Inc said it was extending the suspension of its flights from the United States to Delhi and Mumbai in India until Oct. 26, citing continued restrictions of Pakistani airspace. 

The closure of Pakistani airspace had majorly impacted global air traffic especially the Afghans who were coming to India on a regular basis.

The Afghan aviation authority said that closure of Pakistani airspace had led to a loss of $ 27 million to Kabul in addition to disruption of passenger flights and India Afghanistan air corridor. 

Closure of Pakistan airspace had also caused a loss of $100 million to Pakistan. Various Pakistani civil aviation authorities are losing overflight charges, parking and landing charges etc to the tune of $600,000. 

In fact number of direct flights to Pakistan has also been cancelled and its state-run national airlines PIA-Pakistan International Airlines, which is already under tremendous pressure, is facing more loss of revenue due to the closure of Airspace. 

A number of flights were also cancelled to India but since major Indian airspace was opened, New Delhi was able to absorb any losses.

(With inputs from Reuters)

Story highlights

The Indian flights were not allowed to use majority of its airspace since the Balakot air strike in February.