Pakistan reopens airspace after India standoff

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Air India was the worst-affected by the airspace closure

Pakistan has fully reopened its airspace to civilian flights, nearly five months after it was closed following a standoff with India.

The closure forced international airlines to reroute around Pakistan and cost them tens of millions of dollars.

State-owned carrier Air India and other Indian airlines were worst hit.

Pakistan shut its airspace in February after India carried out an air strike against what it said was a terrorist training camp in Pakistani territory.

The attack in Balakot was in retaliation for a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir that killed more than 40 Indian soldiers and was claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group.

Pakistan responded by shooting down an Indian fighter jet. The aerial attacks brought the countries to the brink of war.

Media caption,
Balakot: India launches air strike in Pakistan

Flights via Pakistan, which is on a key aviation corridor, were cancelled and other flights have had to be rerouted since.

In March, Pakistan partially opened its airspace - but not for flights into and out of India. Early on Tuesday it said things were back to normal.

"With immediate effect Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (Air Traffic Service) routes," according to a Notice to Airmen published on the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority's website.

India's aviation ministry said there were no further restrictions on airspace in either country.

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Reports say Pakistan's decision to reopen the airspace came hours after United Airlines announced it was extending the suspension of its flights from the US to Delhi and Mumbai in India until October because of the continued airspace restrictions.

Indian service providers - Air India, SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir - lost nearly $80m (£63m) due to the closure of the Pakistani airspace, India's aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri told the parliament recently.