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Pakistan reopens airspace for civil aviation with immediate effect

Pakistan reopens airspace for civil aviation with immediate effect

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s airspace was reopened to civil aviation with immediate effect, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said on Tuesday, following months of restrictions imposed in the wake of a standoff with India earlier this year.

“With immediate effect, Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (Air Traffic Service) routes,” according to a Notice to Airmen (NOTAMS) published on the authority’s website.

An official at the authority also confirmed that the change was in effect. After four months and 19 days, India would also be able to use Pakistan airspace.

Pakistan closed its airspace in February this year after a standoff with India in the wake of an attack by a militant group on a police convoy in Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IoK) that killed 40 paramilitary police.

Secretary Aviation Shahrukh Nusrat had recently briefed a Senate Standing Committee on Aviation that India had contacted Pakistan asking it to open the airspace. However, Nusrat said India was told to clear its airbases of fighter planes near the border following which Pakistani airspace would be reopened.

Both countries carried out aerial attacks over the other’s territory during the standoff and warplanes fought a brief dogfight over the skies of the disputed Kashmir region.

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

The country 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.

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 October 26, citing continued restrictions of Pakistani airspace.