China has cancelled all flights to and from Pakistan and rerouted its international aircraft flying over the Pakistani airspace due to the regional tensions, official media here reported on Friday. The closure of Pakistan's airspace in response to escalating tensions with India disrupted major routes between Europe and South East Asia and left thousands of air travellers stranded worldwide.
Flights from the Middle East that usually overfly Pakistan and the Pakistan-India border will have to re-route over India, Myanmar or central Asia to enter China, civil aviation experts told Global Times. The Beijing Capital International Airport cancelled all flights to and from Pakistan on Wednesday and Thursday, including connecting flights, according to a statement sent to the Global Times by the North China Air Traffic Management Bureau.
Whether those flights will fly on Friday as scheduled is still unknown, state-run Global Times reported. The bureau said that 22 flights fly in and out of Pakistan every week, including two from Air China and other flights from Pakistan International Airlines.
China is taking positive measures to deal with international flights after Pakistan shut down its airspace, opening part of Chinese airspace for foreign airlines to re-route. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) immediately launched an emergency plan to notify domestic flight companies and cooperate with the air force to ensure the safety of flights and approve temporary flight plans.
Flights to Pakistan have undergone major changes in recent days and the CAAC reminded passengers to check flight information before they make plans, the statement said. Pakistan airspace was closed on Thursday. All international and domestic commercial flights in and out of Pakistan were canceled until further notice, according to reports from Pakistan.
Civilian aviation experts told Global Times that flights from the Middle East that usually overfly Pakistan and the Pakistan-India border will have to re-route over India, Myanmar or central Asia to enter China. At the request of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the CAAC opened part of China's airspace and air routes for foreign airlines to re-route, China National Radio reported.
As of 10 PM Thursday, 28 domestic airlines affected by the closure of Pakistani airspace adjusted flight plans and 49 foreign flights used Chinese airspace to re-route, the report added. Pakistan closed its airspace after tensions escalated with India in the wake of the Pulwama attack on February 14 by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).
India carried out air strikes against the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. In the operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for suicide attacks were eliminated. The facility at Balakot was headed by Yousuf Azhar, the brother-in-law of the JeM chief. Pakistan on Wednesday claimed it shot down two Indian fighter jets over Pakistani air space and arrested a pilot. Later, Prime Minister Khan said that Pakistan will release the pilot as a goodwill gesture.