In late February 2019, Pakistan closed their airspace to foreign airlines. This followed escalating tensions between India and Pakistan, though the impacts of the closures were felt far beyond that.
Pakistan airspace is frequently used by airlines operating flights to & from other countries (especially flights between Europe and Asia), and in many cases this had significant implications.
For example, this airspace closure caused Air Canada and United to suspend some of their flights to India, and it caused Air India to have to add fuel stops on many of their flights to the US.
I’ve been wondering if this closure would ever end, since it seems like tensions are escalating in so many parts of the world (for example, when the Gulf blockade first started many of us thought it was temporary, though it’s still going on).
Well, there’s some good news on this front — Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority has reopened Pakistani airspace with immediate effect for all types of civil traffic on published ATS routes.
This means that we should see operations resume as normal relatively soon. We’re already seeing some airlines operate flights over Pakistani airspace, as you’d expect. India’s aviation minister had said that Indian airlines have lost about $80 million due to Pakistani airspace closure, which doesn’t seem that surprising.
This airspace closure has been costly for Air India
The big question revolves around airlines that had to cancel flights due to these airspace restrictions. It will be interesting to see how quickly they restart service. For example, United has suspended their Newark to Delhi and Mumbai flights until October 26, 2019.
United has suspended flights due to the airspace closure
While the airline could resume those flights earlier, my guess is that they won’t, since filling up these flights profitably on short notice probably won’t be easy. I imagine they’ve already rebooked most passengers who were booked on those flights on partner airlines.