Pakistan & India lift all restrictions on civil flights 5 months after Kashmir standoff

Asia Kashmir

Tue 16 July 2019:

Pakistan has reopened its skies for civilian flights, which had been forced to make detours after the fighting between New Delhi and Islamabad over Kashmir earlier this year. India has reportedly done the same.

On Tuesday morning, the Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority released a statement, saying it had issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) just after midnight on Tuesday, that opens the Pakistani airspace for “all types of civilian traffic.” The order is applicable “with immediate effect.” India has reportedly responded in kind, resuming the flights shortly after Pakistan’s announcement.

“Airlines likely to resume normal routes through Pakistan airspace,” a senior official with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) confirmed, telling the Economic Times that the airlines have already been given a go-ahead. Aerial transportation between the two neighbors practically came to a standstill after a bitter standoff in February this year that saw fierce aerial combat over the contested area of Kashmir, following Indian airstrikes on alleged positions of the Jaish-e-Mohammed group, which had killed 44 Indian police officers.

Pakistan retaliated, shooting down an Indian jet and capturing a pilot, who went on to became a national hero in India upon his release. Sporadic cross-border violence continued as tensions soared, stoking fears of an all-out war between the two nuclear powers. In the aftermath of the incident, Pakistan shut down its airspace completely in February. The disruption of civil aviation traffic led to flight time increases of up to 90 minutes that caused major losses to Indian and international carriers.

As the tensions between the countries subsided, Pakistan began gradually easing the restrictions. It opened a route for west-bound flights from India in April, and last month, the first New Delhi-bound flight from Abu Dhabi cut through Pakistani airspace. In return, India pledged to open 11 points of entry along its own border.

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