India requests Pak to let PM Modi’s flight pass through its airspace

India requests Pak to let PM Modi’s flight pass through its airspace
Representational Pic

India has requested Pakistan to let Prime Minister Narendra Modi's aircraft fly over its airspace to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan where he has to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit on June 13 and June 14, said a senior government official.

Pakistan had fully closed its airspace on February 26 afteran Indian Air Force (IAF) strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) camp in Balakot.Since then, it has only opened two routes, both of them pass through southernPakistan, of the total 11.

"We have requested Pakistan to let the PM's plane flyover its airspace through one of the routes that has not been opened as yet.The PM has to attend the SCO meet on June 13 and June 14," a seniorgovernment official said.

Pakistan had given special permission to India's thenexternal affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to fly directly through Pakistaniairspace to attend the SCO Foreign Ministers' meet in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, onMay 21.

Apart from the two routes through southern Pakistan, theneighbouring country's airspace remains closed for commercial airliners.

The IAF announced on May 31 that all temporary restrictionsimposed on Indian airspace post the Balakot airstrike have been removed.However, it is unlikely to benefit any commercial airliners unless Pakistanreciprocates and opens its complete airspace.

Among Indian airlines, the international operations of AirIndia and IndiGo have been affected by the closure of Pakistani airspace.IndiGo, India's largest airline by share in domestic passenger market, has beenunable to start direct flights from Delhi to Istanbul due to the closure ofPakistani airspace. The low-cost carrier started the Delhi-Istanbul flight inMarch this year. It has to take the longer route every time over the ArabianSea and make a stop either at Doha in Qatar or at Ahmedabad in Gujarat forrefuelling.Similarly, full-service carrier Air India isunable to fly non-stop flights from Delhi to the US since the closure ofPakistani airspace.

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