Canada's flag carrier Air Canada Wednesday temporarily suspended its flights to India due to the closure of Pakistani airspace, amid escalating tensions between the two countries. Pakistan on Wednesday closed its airspace for commercial flights and suspended flight operations across major airports. Pakistan has shut down all its airport after India shot down Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 fighter jet after an airspace violation in Jammu and Kashmir’s Nowshera sector on Wednesday morning. "All Pakistan airports have been shut down. Flight operations have been suspended in Multan, Islamabad, Lahore, Sialkot, and Faisalabad,” news agency ANI reported.
The Indian government has closed several airports close to the Line of Control (LoC) for commercial traffic. According to government sources, flights to Jammu, Srinagar, Chandigarh, Leh, Amritsar, Pathankot, Dehradun and Dharamshala have been suspended till further notice. "The civilian air traffic has been suspended temporarily in view of the emergency," an official of the Airport Authority of India told news agency PTI. Official sources said that the entire airspace north of Delhi has been vacated.
The move came amid escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan after Indian Air Force carried out a pre-dawn air strike on terror bases in Pakistan on Tuesday. India said Pakistan jets intruded into Indian air space in the Rajouri and Poonch sectors.
"One flight en route to Delhi from Toronto was turned back over the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday night and returned to Toronto Wednesday, while a second flight from Vancouver to Delhi that was scheduled to depart Tuesday night was also been cancelled," Air Canada said.
"Air Canada's flight from Toronto to Mumbai is planned to operate tonight as it takes a different routing, and we are evaluating the routing options for both Toronto-Delhi and Vancouver-Delhi flights scheduled to operate later tonight," it said in a statement.
"We are monitoring the situation in order to resume service once the situation normalises and we determine it is safe to do so," it said.
Air Canada and Jet Airways operate 18 flights weekly to India from Toronto Pearson.