The temporary restrictions that were imposed on the Indian airspace since February 27 in the aftermath of the Balakot strikes were lifted on Friday, the Indian Air Force said. "Temporary restrictions on all air routes in the Indian airspace, imposed by the Indian Air Force on 27 Feb 19, have been removed," the IAF tweeted on Friday.
Earlier, Pakistan, for the second time, extended closure of airspace along the Indian border till June 15. "It has been more than two-and-a-half-months but there is no progress in the lifting of the ban either by Pakistan or India. It is surprising that no back-channel diplomacy is used to show flexibility on this matter that is causing huge losses to both Indian and Pakistani flag carriers as well as foreign airlines," a Pakistani official was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Due to 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 US and Europe flying in and out of New Delhi are the worst hit. Thousands of travellers suffer flight cancellations, delays and soaring ticket prices due to Pakistan's decision to close its airspace for flights to and from India.
The Pakistan International Airlines' (PIA) operations for Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi have been suspended since February 26, causing a loss of millions of rupees per day. Before the airspace ban by India, PIA operated four flights to Kuala Lumpur, two to Bangkok and two to New Delhi per week. Similarly, the foreign airlines who were operating on these routes had to suspend their operations.
For Pakistani passengers to reach these destinations - Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok -, they have to take connecting flights from the Gulf.Airlines from central and west Asia now take much longer routes. For example, Delhi-Astana flight now takes three extra hours while Delhi to Moscow flight takes more than two additional hours.