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BUSINESS

PM Modi’s flight avoids Pakistan airspace: Here’s


what overflying curbs mean for the industry
The curbs on Pakistani airspace have also pinched commercial airlines in India and abroad
leading to higher fuel burns, disruptions in ight operations.
Written by Pranav Mukul | • New Delhi |
Published: June 14, 2019 3:44:11 am

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The ight of Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who is attending the Shanghai Cooperation
Organisation (SCO) Summit — from Delhi to Bishkek on Thursday took six hours on account of
the detour to avoid entering Pakistani airspace, which has restricted for over ying since late
February.

According to a senior Aviation Ministry o cial, if the aircraft took the usual northward route to
Kyrgyzstan’s capital, it would have taken half the time, in addition to the cost savings on fuel.
The curbs on Pakistani airspace have also pinched commercial airlines in India and abroad
leading to higher fuel burns, disruptions in ight operations, etc.

The Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday said that the government had explored two
options for Modi’s ight and a decision was taken that the aircraft would be own via Oman,
Iran and Central Asian countries. Notably, last month, Pakistan had given special permission to
the then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to y through its airspace while travelling to
Bishkek to attend a meeting of SCO Foreign Ministers. As per sources, a decision on routes of
VVIP ights is based on various factors, including security and e ciency. Pakistan on Thursday
extended its airspace ban along its eastern border with India for the third time till June 28,
according to a notice issued by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority, a PTI report said.

Route of PM Narendra Modi’s ight AI-1 from New Delhi to Bishkek on


Thursday. (Source: Flightradar24)

Following airstrikes by Indian Air Force in Balakot, Pakistan had fully closed its airspace on
February 26. While it later opened up the airspace, restrictions on over ying the country still
continue — and out of the total 11 air routes in Pakistan’s territory, it has opened up two since
March. One of these is westbound waypoint over Arabian Sea towards Karachi, Hingol, Gwadar,
and the other one is eastbound over Karachi, Badin into Gujarat, India towards Ahmedabad. The
closure of routes affected hundreds of east-west ights ying over the subcontinent but
westbound ights from airports in northern India such as Delhi, Lucknow, Amritsar etc have
been worst affected.
The restrictions have not only led in longer ight times for passengers but also in higher fuel
expenses and operational di culties for the airlines. Even as some airlines introduced refuel
stops for their ights from Delhi to North American east coast, some have cancelled ights
altogether. US-based carrier United has suspended its Delhi-Newark ight since April and is
likely to resume it in July. Air Canada had said it would suspend daily ight between Delhi and
Toronto between June 14 and August 1.

An airline executive said that opening of the eastbound waypoint earlier this month, saves 10-
15 minutes in ight time but is still a long way from the pre-Balakot situation. Due to closure of
routes that allowed westbound ights from airports in north India to enter Pakistani airspace —
instead of taking a detour to Gujarat or Maharashtra and then turning right for Europe, North
America or West Asia — most ights saw their durations rise by at least 70-80 minutes.

Air India’s ights from Delhi to Chicago are stopping in Europe for refuelling. Further, IndiGo’s
ight from Delhi to Istanbul, which was to be rst non-stop ight on the route by an Indian
carrier has been forced to make a refuelling stop at Doha. Similarly, SpiceJet, which was the
only Indian airline ying the Delhi-Kabul route has cancelled the ight. As per an Air India
o cial, it has been bearing additional expenses and foregoing revenues of around Rs 6 crore
every day on an average since the airspace restrictions.

However, the o cial said, monetary losses on account of extra fuel burn are different for each
ight depending on its capacity.

6 Comment(s)

Narendra Modi

Home / Business / Aviation / PM Modi’s Flight Avoids Pakistan Airspace: Here’s What Over ying Curbs Mean F…

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