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IAF withdraws all temporary airspace restrictions imposed a day after Balakot airstrike

"Temporary restrictions on all air routes in the Indian airspace, imposed by the Indian Air Force on 27 Feb 19, have been removed," tweeted the IAF.

IAF withdraws all temporary airspace restrictions imposed a day after Balakot airstrike

The Indian Air force (IAF) has lifted all temporary restrictions imposed on all air routes in the Indian airspace on February 27, a day after the Balakot airstrike. Taking to Twitter, the IAF made the announcement on Friday about the removal of restrictions that was earlier imposed by it. "Temporary restrictions on all air routes in the Indian airspace, imposed by the Indian Air Force on 27 Feb 19, have been removed," tweeted the IAF.

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India on February 26, had carried out airstrikes on terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad's (JeM) biggest training camp deep inside Pakistan's Balakot in a befitting response to the Pulwama terror attack. The airstrike on the JeM camp came 12 days after the terror group claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir, killing 40 CRPF personnel on February 14. A day after the Balakot airstrikes, on February 27, a fleet of Pakistani fighter jets had unsuccessfully targeted various military installations in Jammu and Kashmir.

The IAF foiled the Pakistani retaliation, and in the dogfight, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman downed an F-16 fighter jet of the Pakistan Air Force. Soon after he brought down the F-16, Wing Commander Varthaman was captured by the Pakistani Army as his MiG-21 Bison jet was hit but was released on March 1.

Pakistan had also kept its airspace fully closed after the Balakot airstrike. On March 27, it had opened its airspace for all flights except for New Delhi, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. On May 15, Pakistan extended its airspace ban for flights to India till May 30 and on May 30 it further extended the closure of its airspace along its eastern border with India until June 15. According to a notice issued to airmen (NOTAM) by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Pakistan's airspace along the eastern border with India will remain closed until 5 am (local time) on June 15.

Due to the ban, foreign carriers using Indian airspace have been forced to take costly detours because they cannot fly over Pakistan. The closure mainly affects flights from Europe to Southeast Asia. The flights from the US and Europe flying in and out of New Delhi are the worst hit. Thousands of travellers suffer flight cancellations, delays and soaring ticket prices due to Pakistan's decision to close its airspace for flights to and from India. The operating cost for Air India, which flies to destinations in Europe and the US, has increased significantly as it had to take longer routes due to the closure of Pakistani airspace.

(with agency inputs)