New Delhi: There was massive inconvenience and chaos for thousands of passengers traveling by air on Wednesday due to a massive cancellation of flights in northern India, with flight operations at nine airports initially being shut down, but aviation regulator DGCA later declared that operations at these nine airports have resumed “as of now”. These airports are Srinagar, Jammu, Leh, Pathankot, Amritsar, Shimla, Kangra, Kullu Manali and Pithoragarh. Various airlines like Air India, Jet Airways, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines announced on Wednesday that they were rerouting their
flights as Pakistan had closed its airspace in the wake of escalating tensions with India. Re-routing of international flights from northern India to Europe and America via Mumbai is likely now to increase the flying time by about two hours and will also add to the airlines’ operating costs as more aviation fuel has to be spent. This is because international flights to these places from northern India will now have to take a circuitous route. But commercial flights from India to locations such as Afghan capital Kabul are bound to be affected, at least in the short term.
On Wednesday morning, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) initially issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM), saying flight operations at the airports in Srinagar, Jammu, Leh, Pathankot, Amritsar, Shimla, Kangra, Kullu Manali and Pithoragarh would be shut for a whopping three months from February 27 to May 27. This was seen in the context of the Pakistan Air Force violating Indian airspace. But the DGCA on Wednesday later said operations at the nine airports had resumed “as of now”. A DGCA official was quoted by news agencies as saying: “As of now, operations to these airports have resumed.”
According to PTI, airlines such as Air India, Jet Airways, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines Wednesday announced they were rerouting their flights as Pakistan had closed its airspace in the wake of escalating tensions with India.
“Inbound and outbound flights from USA and Europe for Delhi are being re-routed through Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Flights landing into India from USA and Europe are being re-routed via Dubai and Sharjah and will land into India with a delay,” Air India tweeted Wednesday evening. The national carrier, however, added that “no flights are cancelled and there will only be an increase in the flying time”.
Pakistan on Wednesday closed its airspace for commercial flights and suspended flight operations across major airports, including in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, for an indefinite period in the wake of the escalating tensions with India. Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority made the announcement after the director-general of Inter-Services Public Relations, the military’s media arm, acknowledged the closure of Pakistan’s airspace due to the security situation.
Meanwhile, civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted Wednesday evening: “Reviewed the current airspace restrictions with Member (ANS), AAI in view of the current cross-border situation. I assure you that we are working out modalities so that air passengers are least inconvenienced. All stakeholders were kept informed. @AAI_Official.”