Pakistan has partially shut down airspace over Karachi, latest media reports said on Wednesday. According to Pakistani news portal Dunya news, the civil aviation authority issued revised NOTAM closing three Karachi air routes for International flights till Aug 31. The decision came a day after Pakistan science minister Fawad Chaudhry threatened that Prime Minister Imran Khan is considering a complete closure of airspace to India. "PM [Imran Khan] is considering a complete closure of air space to India. A complete ban on the use of Pakistan's land routes for Indian trade to Afghanistan was also suggested in a cabinet meeting. The legal formalities for these decisions are under consideration...Modi has started we'll finish!" Fawad Chaudhry had tweeted.
Prior to this, on August 9, Pakistan had partially closed its airspace for all Indian flights, shutting three out of nine air routes, till September 5. The move came hours after Pakistan expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria, minutes after it decided to downgrade the diplomatic ties with India over what it called New Delhi's "unilateral and illegal" move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The Tribune reported that India, on its part, issued security alert to 19 airports and deployed additional security personnel apart from regular deployment at airports.
After months of tension in the aftermath of the Balakot airstrikes, Pakistan had removed ban on Indian flights and opened its airspace for civilian traffic in July last month. Since Balakot airstrike in February, Indian flights were not allowed to fly over Pakistan airspace.
India aviation industry has suffered huge losses due to the airspace ban by Pakistan. Earlier, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told Parliament that due to the closure of Pakistan airspace, Air India had to spend an extra Rs 430 crore on longer routes.
Post the air strike, Air India had to re-route, merge or suspend many of its international flights that connect India with European and US cities.
IndiGo, India’s largest airline by domestic market share, was unable to start direct flights from Delhi to Istanbul due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace. The low-cost carrier started the Delhi-Istanbul flight in March. Till date, this IndiGo flight had to take the longer route over the Arabian Sea and make a stop at Doha in Qatar for refuelling.