Pakistan has reopened its airspace to transiting aircraft. The closure had led to some flights being canceled due to the extended flight times required to route around the country. However, with the airspace now reopened, United Airlines, Air India and Air Canada are all set to relaunch some routes.
Back in February, escalating tensions between India and Pakistan led to the closure of Pakistan’s airspace. This, in turn, led to carriers having to fly around Pakistan rather than over it. This meant that some flight times to India and South East Asia were significantly increased. For some of the longer routes, this meant an additional stop was required, leading to some suspending the routes entirely.
Why were flights suspended?
The reason some routes were dropped comes down to aircraft range. When the Pakistani airspace was closed, aircraft couldn’t fly direct from A to B. Instead, they had to fly around the edge of Pakistan’s airspace. This was annoying for short local hops which could sometimes have hours added to the flight.
But for carriers operating long haul within the region, such as United Airlines and Air Canada, it made their existing services unfeasible. Services from North America to India are often operating at the top end of the aircraft’s maximum range. As such, the greater distance required to avoid Pakistani airspace meant one of two options could be considered.
Firstly, they could have stopped on route to add fuel, which would have been uneconomical due to landing fees and no doubt unpopular with passengers. The alternative was to scrap the flight entirely, deploying the aircraft on other, less complicated routes instead. Most airlines tended to go with the latter option.
Thai Airways flights had been particularly affected by restrictions in Pakistan’s airspace. Here’s the progression of TG971 from Zurich to Bangkok over the past few months as restrictions were put in place then gradually eased.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) July 16, 2019
United India flights
United Airlines will begin to resume flights to India in September according to Live From A Lounge. On the 6th September, both the carrier’s Newark to Mumbai and its Newark to Delhi services will restart. Both routes will be operated by a Boeing 777 aircraft, with the Mumbai route operated by a 777-300, and the Delhi route by a 777-200.
Air India Canada flights
Air India is looking to relaunch its route between Delhi and Toronto. The airline will commence services on the route on the 27th September, using a Boeing 777-300.
Air Canada India flights
Air Canada will wait slightly longer to resume their flights. In fact, the carrier will relaunch its competing Toronto to Delhi route on the 1st October. This will see the route operated by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
A relief to many
While the airspace opening will allow carriers to relaunch canceled routes. It will also allow for faster flight times on all routes heading to South East Asia and India. This will likely be most welcome for travelers.
Were you affected by the route cancellations? Are you happy to see them reinstated? Let us know in the comments.