Indian carriers suffered $80m losses due to air space closure
India has reciprocated to Pakistan lifting the ban on use of its air space for civilian traffic on Tuesday early morning by opening its air space for use of Pakistani civilian flights with immediate effect.
Indian airline operators are expected to start using normal routes through Pakistan airspace soon, according to aviation industry sources.
Pakistan’s decision to ban Indian flights to use majority of its air space came in the aftermath of the Balakot air strike by India in February this year.
Restoration of normal air traffic over the Pakistan airspace will lead to saving of substantial flying time and operational costs for passengers and airlines respectively.
Opening of the Pakistan airspace will save Indian and Middle-based about 40-50 minutes flying extra time, having previously avoided the banned airspace over Pakistan and part of Afghanistan.
The extra flying time has led to a huge escalation in costs, with the Boeing 777s consuming about 8 tonnes of fuel for an hour of flying, while Boeing 787s consuming about 5-6 tonnes of fuel. The arrow bodied Airbus A320 New Engine Option consumes 2 tonnes of fuel for an hour of flying.
As for Indian national carrier Air India and several other US and European carriers operating to India, the flight diversions also meant a technical halt at Dubai or Sharjah for refuelling.
Air India is said to have incurred about $72 million loss (up until July 2), due to the re-routing of its various international flights due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace.
Pakistan’s decision to close its air space followed Indian Air Force (IAF) striking a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot on February 26.
The IAF’s strike was in retaliation to the Pulwama attack on February 14 by terrorists, allegedly owing allegiance to Pakistan.
Since then, Pakistan had only opened two routes, both of them passing through the southern region, of the total 11.