Pakistan suffers over USD 50 mn losses due to airspace closure

Pakistan suffered a whopping USD 50 million loss after it closed its airspace with India for nearly five months following the Balakot air strikes in February, according to the country's aviation minister, who underlined that Islamabad's action hit New Delhi 'harder'.

Pakistan fully closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force (IAF) struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot in retaliation for the Pulwama attack carried out by a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror outfit.

While India removed some airspace restrictions later, Pakistan kept the ban in place along its eastern border with India for nearly five months, leading to increased flight time for passengers and huge fuel costs to airlines.

Pakistan opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on Tuesday early morning, removing the ban on Indian flights that were not allowed to use majority of its airspace since the Balakot air strikes.

Pakistan's minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said on Thursday that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suffered a loss of Rs 8.5 billion (USD 50 million) because of airspace restrictions since February in the wake of the "Indian aggression."

"It's a huge loss for our overall (aviation) industry," he was quoted as saying by the 'Dawn' newspaper.

The airspace closure disrupted Indian flights headed west. It also forced Pakistan International Airlines to suspend some of its flights, and effectively closed off major international routes in and out of Islamabad and Lahore.

(with news agency inputs)