The airspace above all of Pakistan and parts of Northern India has been closed following the escalation of a dispute with India that has led to the shooting down of military jets. Nine airports in northern India were also affected by the restrictions that resulted in cancellations. Flights that normally cross Parkistan's airways are impacted by significant re-routings to the south across the Persian Gulf and Middle East.
The UK Foreign Office issued the following advice to travellers: "In response to these tensions, Pakistan has announced the closure of its airspace, effective until 11.59pm on 28 February. There are no commercial flights operating to, from or within Pakistan at this time."
Pakistan's airspace, which would normally be crossed by many flights routing between Europe, India and Southeast Asia, is deserted today. (flightradar24.com)
The restrictions affect not only flights from and to Pakistan, but also many other services that normally pass over the country. Most services between Europe and Southeast Asia cross the country, as does almost everything heading west from the northern half of India. British Airways flights to the region are delayed, while airlines including Singapore Airlines have had to plan lengthy, time consuming diversions and fuel stops in order to reach destinations.
Kalitta Air flight CKS248 taes the long way round while en route from New Delhi in India to Leipzig in Germany. (flightradar24.com)
United's two flights from the US East Coast have both diverted to Europe while the flight tie of a Spicejet service from Kabul in Afghanistan to India has been increased from less than an hour and a half to more than five hours.
Pakistan's airspace is divided into two Flight Information Regions, known as OPKR and OPLR. A notice to airmen (NOTAM) issued at 07:30 on February 27 says:
PAKISTAN AIRSPACE IS CLOSED. 27 FEB 07:30 2019 UNTIL 28 FEB 23:59 2019 ESTIMATED.
On that basis, it appears that the restrictions will continue throughout today and for all of tomorrow. Further delays, additional fuel stops, lengthy re-routes or cancellations are therefore inevitable on most flights operating between the USA, Europe, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent as well as some heading to or from Southeast Asia.
Text © The Aviation Oracle