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Pakistan declines India’s request to open airspace

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has dismissed the request of India to open the airspace until the latter de-escalates, Aviation Secretary Shah­rukh Nusrat told a parliamentary committee.

“The Indian government approached asking us to open the airspace. We conveyed our concerns that first India must withdraw its fighter planes placed forward,” Mr. Nusrat told the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation.

Pakistan’s eastern airspace is closed for all over-flights and transit flights. However, flight operations are continued as per routine on the Eastern Air Side and the Western airspace.

Pakistan took the decision to shut its airspace on February 27, sending India a strong message and forcing carriers to reroute flights, after an aerial dogfight between Pakistan and Indian air forces.

Since the Feb 27 air combat, the closure of Pakistan’s eastern airspace has been consistently extending, while flight operations on the other sides remain functional.

Pakistan had granted special permission to the request of India to let its Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj overflight. According to media reports, Sushma Swaraj’s flight was permitted to use Pakistani airspace as the Indian minister was scheduled to attend Shanghai Cooperation Organisation session in Bishkek on May 21.

In the wake of airspace closure, Indian media reports say that the flights of several airlines around the world have been either re-routed or canceled, with as many as 400 flights being affected on a daily basis. Out of all the airlines, Air India is one of the worst-hit airlines.

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