Updated: August 9, 2019 11:27:08 am
Pakistan on Wednesday issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) announcing partial closure of its airspace in the Lahore region due to “operational reasons”.
A NOTAM is issued to inform pilots and route planners about any restrictions in airspace or airports owing to a variety of factors including weather, security or operational purposes. The restriction will be applicable till September 5 for eight hours a day, except Sundays.
An Air India official pointed out that the closure was a routine one and did not have any significant impact — particularly given that alternate routes have been made available and the busiest sector for transit that passes above Karachi is still open. “One air corridor has been closed (in Pakistani airspace), requiring a maximum of 12 minutes diversion. It will not affect us (much),” an Air India spokesperson was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
However, it is noteworthy that the last time Pakistan closed its airspace — in February, following the Balakot strikes — it resulted in severe operational disruptions for airlines across the globe by the means of extended flight times and increased flying costs running into hundreds of crores of rupees.
Pakistan’s decision to shut off its airspace came a day after a Bill to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories was passed by the Indian Parliament. Pakistan Wednesday announced that is was downgrading diplomatic ties with India, and asked New Delhi to withdraw its High Commissioner from Islamabad. The country also said it would not be sending its High Commissioner-designate to India.
Pakistan has also suspended bilateral trade with India, review of bilateral arrangements, approaching the United Nations, while declaring that it would observe August 14, its independence day, as a Black Day.
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