ISLAMABAD: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Thursday said that the country’s airspace has been temporarily opened for commercial aviation.
Earlier, Pakistan kept its airspace closed for a second day on Thursday amid escalating tensions with India. However, CAA said that flight operations across the country will be resumed at 5am on Friday.
CAA clarified that the earlier notification which mentioned that the airspace had been closed “until 2359HRS of February 28” was as per Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) which is 5am on March 1 PST.
“Since the existing NOTAM is effective until 2359HRS of February 28, Pakistan airspace shall remain closed. Please stay in touch with your airlines for the timely update on any further changes,” CAA tweeted.
AIRLINES CANCEL FLIGHT OPERATIONS TO PAKISTAN
Several airlines, including Emirates, Air Canada and Qatar Airways, suspended flights to Pakistan owing to closure of its airspace.
Etihad, Fly Dubai, Gulf Air, SriLankan Airlines and Air Canada also suspended services to the country and flight tracking portals showed Singapore Airlines, British Airways and others were forced to reroute flights.
On Wednesday evening, CAA had said that flight operations in Pakistan had been partially restored after being completely suspended. However, on Thursday all flight operations remained fully suspended.
Thousands of holidaymakers were stranded in Bangkok on Thursday after Thai Airways cancelled all flights over Pakistan owing to closure of airspace.
Twenty-seven flights, the majority to and from European routes, have been cancelled, the Thai flag carrier said, with three passenger jets forced to return to Bangkok´s Suvarnabhumi airport on Thursday.
Thai Airways said nearly 5,000 passengers had been caught up in the cancellations.
“There are 4,000 from European flights and 700 to 800 from flights to Pakistan,” a Thai Airways spokesperson said.
“We are waiting for permission to fly over other countries,” she said, explaining Iran had rejected a request to fly over its airspace.
“Now we are contacting China,” she added.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor, in a media briefing on Wednesday, said the decision to close the airspace had been taken due to the prevailing security situation.
Pakistan carried out airstrikes and shot down two Indian military jets on Wednesday, a day after Indian warplanes “intruded” Pakistan airspace for the first time since a war in 1971, prompting leading powers to urge both of the nuclear-armed countries to show restraint.
Tension has been elevated since the Pulwama attack on February 14 in which over 40 Indian paramilitaries were killed in occupied Kashmir.