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Pak allows Modi's plane to fly over its airspace

Last updated on: June 11, 2019 04:00 IST

Pakistan on Monday decided in principle to let Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi's aircraft fly over its airspace to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan where he will attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit on June 13-14, where his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan would also be present.

Photograph: Press Information Bureau

Pakistan had closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Balakot.

Since then, it has only opened two of the total 11 routes, both of which pass through southern Pakistan.

India requested Pakistan to let Modi's aircraft fly over its airspace to Bishkek.

The Imran Khan government has approved in principle the Indian government's request to let Modi's aircraft fly over Pakistani airspace to Bishkek.

 

"The Indian government will be conveyed about the decision once the procedural formalities are completed. The civil aviation authority will also be directed to notify the airmen subsequently" a Pakistani official said, adding Pakistan was hopeful that India would respond to its offer for a dialogue.

Prime Minister Khan recently wrote to his Indian counterpart, stressing that Pakistan requires a solution for all geopolitical issues including Kashmir between the two neighbouring States.

Pakistan, the official said, is still optimistic that India would respond to its peace offer despite the fact that Modi and Khan would not meet on the sidelines of the SCO summit.

Pakistan had also given special permission to India's then external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to fly over Pakistani airspace to attend the SCO foreign ministers's meet in Bishkek on May 21.

Apart from the two routes through southern Pakistan, its airspace remains closed for commercial air traffic.

Among Indian airlines, Air India and IndiGo's international operations have been affected by the closure of Pakistani airspace.

IndiGo, India's largest airline by share in domestic passenger market, has been unable to operate direct flights from Delhi to Istanbul due to the closure of Pakistani airspace.

The low-cost carrier commenced the Delhi-Istanbul flight in March, but its flights have to take the longer route over the Arabian Sea and make a stop either at Doha in Qatar or at Ahmedabad in Gujarat for refuelling.

Similarly, Air India is unable to fly non-stop flights from New Delhi to the US after the closure of Pakistani airspace.

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