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Pakistan reopens airspace for all civilian traffic, closed since Balakot strike

For the first time since February’s Balakot strike, Pakistan on Tuesday opened its airspace for all civilian traffic, as per the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority.

“With immediate effect, Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civilian traffic on published ATS routes,” read a notice to airmen (NOTAM) issued by the authority.

The country had earlier claimed that it would not open its airspace for commercial flights until India removed its fighter jets from forward Indian airbases.

Pakistan had fully shut its airspace on the eastern border with India after the Indian Air Force carried out aerial airstrikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot on February 26.

The strikes on the terror camp were in response to the JeM-perpetrated terror attack in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, on February 14, in which 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives.

In mid-April, Pakistan opened one of its 11 air routes for west-bound flights from India — airlines like Air India and Turkish Airlines have started using it.

In March, the neighbouring country partially opened its airspace but did not allow Indian flight to fly over its airspace.

Since then, foreign carriers using Indian airspace have been forced to take costly detours because they cannot fly over Pakistan. The closure mainly affects flights from Europe to Southeast Asia.

Pakistan lies in the middle of a vital aviation corridor whereby the airspace restrictions, which have been continuing since a long time, impacts hundreds of commercial flights per day, extending flight timings for passengers, as well as fuel costs for airlines.

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