Pakistan refuses use of its airspace for Srinagar-Sharjah flight

Pakistan refuses use of its airspace for Srinagar-Sharjah flight

NEW DELHI: Pakistan has started denying overflying clearance to international flights between Jammu and Kashmir and the Gulf. Union home minister Amit Shah had on October 23, 2021, launched GoFirst’s four-time weekly direct flight between Srinagar and Sharjah.

For the first few days, Pakistan allowed this erstwhile GoAir’s four-time weekly flight to overfly its airspace and then later suddenly stopped clearance for the same.

Since then, the flight is taking a much longer route. The flight over Pakistan used to take about 3 hours and 40 minutes while the journey now takes nearly 40-50 minutes more due to taking a much longer route to stay clear of the neighbouring country’s airspace.

“Pakistan had given overflying clearance to this Srinagar-Sharjah-Srinagar flight and then suddenly started denying access to its airspace to this flight. India has written to Pakistan on this issue but there has been no response so far. If they do not respond, India could raise the same on international fora,” said a senior official.

Pakistan had closed its airspace for overflying for 138 days from February 27, 2019, to July 16, 2019, following Indian Air Force’s Balakot strike. At that time also, India had raised the issue with United Nation’s aviation arm, International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

At present, Afghanistan airspace is closed for non-military aircraft since August 16, 2021.