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Airlines and pax scramble in wake of India-Pakistan flare-up

March 1, 2019 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

Airlines scrambled to avoid Pakistani airspace yesterday after armed hostilities erupted between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India – causing some airlines to cancel flights at short notice and most others to re-route.

Pakistan closed its airspace and India restricted flights in the north. Airlines have not forgotten the horrific shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014 while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The flight headed over a war zone in eastern Ukraine and the crash killed all 283 passengers and 15 crew aboard.

This time, the combatants have at least closed the airspace overhead.

The India-Pakistan emergency is bringing delays and inconvenience to passengers because Pakistan lies right on the flight path between Asia and Europe.Thai Airways International cancelled numerous flights to and from Europe, leaving passengers in the lurch at Bangkok airport, looking for other flights.

Thai said flights to and from London, Munich, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Vienna, Stockholm, Zurich, Copenhagen, Oslo, Frankfurt, and Rome had been scheduled to fly over Pakistani airspace so had been cancelled.

A passenger on Thai International, Jason Eligh, posted on Twitter yesterday the abrupt email he had received from the airline, cancelling his flight.

According to Eligh, Thai said the cancellation wasn’t its fault, so:

  • no rebooking allowed
  • no hotel covered
  • no support given
  • no refund offered.

Anywhere but Pakistan. FlightRadar24 site shows planes shunning Pakistani airspace yesterday

Eligh said Thai told him if he wanted a new flight he must arrange it himself.

“So I did,” Eligh wrote. “Thank you @qatarairways.”

Thai Airways replied, apologising for Eligh’s “unpleasant experience with our services” and saying it would investigate his complaint.

Many other airlines operating flights out of East Asia to Europe were forced to reroute flights. Qantas said it was diverting flights from Pakistani airspace, causing a slight delay for passengers flying between London and Singapore.

“We’ve made a change to the flight path to avoid Pakistani airspace and its added about 20 minutes extra flying time each way,” Qantas said in a statement.

Pakistan closed its airspace completely and Indian authorities restricted flights to airports in Srinagar, Jammu and Leh in Kashmir and Amritsar, Chandigarh and Dehradun. India also closed a large section of airspace north of New Delhi to civilian flights.

Diversions at short notice away from affected Pakistani and Indian airspace mean longer flight times, with some planes having to make refuelling stops, throwing schedules into chaos and causing passengers to miss connections.

Airspace in and around the Gulf region, already busy, was reported congested yesterday as airlines sought new flight plans.

Pakistan said it had shot down two Indian Air Force planes in its airspace over disputed Kashmir. India said its forces shot down a Pakistani fighter jet. Kashmir is divided into three, administered respectively by India, Pakistan and China.

DFAT’s Smartraveller website advised yesterday: “Following a terrorist attack in Kashmir on 14 February, India’s military response on 26 February and reports of air force incidents over border areas of the disputed region of Kashmir, there is increased tension in the region. The situation in and around Kashmir is very volatile and could deteriorate without warning.

“International and domestic flights across Pakistan have been suspended. Monitor local media for developments and contact your airline for the latest information. We have not changed the level of our advice. We continue to advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Pakistan and to not travel to the border areas in Kashmir and with India.”

DFAT’s advice on India is “exercise a high degree of caution” in India overall, with higher advice levels in some parts of the country, including Jammu and Kashmir.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Navveed Aziz says:

    yes you are right we need to have a look on local media role and other participants.

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