In a move targeted at India, Pakistan is closing airspace over Karachi and Lahore citing “operational reasons”.
Starting October 8, airspace over Karachi and Lahore will remain closed for 18 hours a day, for 13 days, a notice issued by Pakistan said.
The reason for putting lower level airspace out of bounds must be because Pakistan military jets are doing their manoeuvres and exercises, experts says.
The PMO is reviewing continuation of air ties with Pakistan, including whether pakistan International Airlines(PIA) can be allowed to fly to/over India (no Indian carrier flies to Pakistan).
“The nuclear facilities of Pakistan are located to the right of Lahore and we are never allowed to take any detour there. The restrictions over Karachi and now Lahore air space mean that Pakistan is undertaking air exercises as tensions with India mount,” said one senior commander.
Since almost all Indian carriers flying from north/west/east India to the west/Gulf fly over Pakistan, they have had to work out alternative routes. “If we are asked not to fly over Pakistan, these flights will go to Ahmedabad, fly over the Arabian Sea, proceed to Muscat airspace and then either go to the Gulf or fly westwards to Europe or North America,” said a source.
Indian authorities contemplated taking the other route of flying straight over J&K, then flying into Chinese airspace and then turning left to the West. However, unsure of whether China will cooperate, the authorities have decided to stick to Ahmedabad-Gulf. This is the third air restriction Pakistan has imposed following the Uri attack.