In a major embarrassment to Pakistan, its all-weather ally China has decided to cancel all flights to and from Pakistan and rerouted its international aircraft flying over the Pakistani airspace following the rising tensions between India and Pakistan.
According to the reports, the closing of Pakistan’s airspace due to the escalating tensions with India has disrupted major routes between Europe and South East Asia and left thousands of air travellers stranded worldwide. Several flights from the Middle East that usually fly over Pakistan and the Pakistan-India border have to be re-routed over Arabian Sea, India, Myanmar or central Asia to enter China.
Reportedly, the Beijing Capital International Airport has cancelled all flights to and from Pakistan, including connecting flights for the last two days. It is still unknown whether flights will fly from the Airport on Friday, reported state-run Global Times.
The report said that 22 flights belonging to Air China and Pakistan International Airlines fly in and out of Pakistan every week. China has now opened part of its airspace for foreign airlines to re-route after Pakistan shut down its airspace. There have been major changes in flight schedule in China last two days and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has suggested passengers check flight information before they make travel plans.
China has allowed foreign airlines to use its airspace as an alternate route. Civilian Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) came out with the contingency plan for both domestic and foreign airlines to use Chinese air space to reroute flights that use the Pakistani airspace.
The CAAC has also made immediate plans to notify domestic flight companies to cooperate with the air force to ensure the safety of flights and approve temporary flight plans. Almost 28 domestic airlines have been affected by the closure of Pakistani airspace and had to make adjustments in their flight plans and 49 foreign flights used Chinese airspace to re-route, the report added.
Pakistan closed its airspace after tensions escalated with India in the wake of the Pulwama attack on February 14 by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). According to flight tracking information observed on Flightradar24, all flights in and out of Pakistan was stopped on Wednesday, and the airspace remains closed. Flights from carriers including Singapore Airlines, Finnair, British Airways, Aeroflot and Air India had to detour to avoid flying over Pakistan. Reportedly, about 800 flights a day use the India-Pakistan air corridor.
Although the reports today had said that airports in the western side of Pakistan have been opened today, while the airports in the eastern side will remain shut till 4th March, no flights could be seen operating over the entire country on Flightradar24.
Yesterday few international flights, which were already in Pakistan when the airspace closure was enforced, were allowed to leave the country without any passengers. Other than those few outbound flights, the Pakistani air space remains completely empty, except the military planes doing the rounds, few of which can be seen on Flightradar24.
Authorities in Pakistan allowed international operators to ferry aircraft out of the country back to their bases. These flights did not have passengers, only crew. The airspace remains closed to traffic. Details: https://t.co/9NeSPvJkSy
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) February 28, 2019
India had carried out ‘non-military pre-emptive strikes’ against the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. In the operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for suicide attacks were eliminated.
Following the airstrikes, Pakistan had attempted to attack Indian military establishments before Indian airforce intercepted to thwart their attacks. India had lost one MiG-21 Bison after it shot down one of Pakistan’s F-16. After the Pakistani aggression, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was taken captive by Pakistan and now, per the Geneva convention, Imran Khan has asserted that the Wing Commander will be returning to India today.