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 (CAA).
Pakistan fully closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot. Since then, it has only opened two routes, both of them pass through southern Pakistan, of the total 11. Pakistan's civil aviation authority is expected to review the situation on June 15.
The IAF announced on May 31 that all temporary restrictions imposed on Indian airspace post the Balakot airstrike have been removed. The CAA notice issued to airmen (NOTAM) on Thursday says: "Pakistani airspace will be closed until June 28 along its eastern border with India. The Panjgoor airspace will remain open for overflying transit flights from the western side as Air India had already been using that airspace." A Pakistan government official told PTI that since there has been no official communication between the two countries regarding opening of their airspace for each other the "status quo" will prevail. "See if some development takes place at the government's level in this respect before June 28," he said.
On Wednesday Pakistan gave a special permission to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's VVIP flight to use its airspace for his official trip to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. However Modi's flight avoided flying over Pakistan. Earlier, Pakistan had allowed India's (former) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to fly directly though Pakistani airspace to participate in the meeting of SCO foreign ministers in Bishkek on May 21. Pakistan earlier had indicated that it may lift the airspace ban along its eastern border with India imposed on February 27 to reciprocate India’s decision to remove all restrictions on all air routes in the Indian airspace. As a result of the ban, 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. The flights from Europe and the US flying in and out of New Delhi have been the worst hit.
Since Pakistan's airspace closure, the airfare on many routes have gone up significantly, including Delhi-Kabul, Delhi-Moscow, Delhi-Tehran and Delhi-Astana.