Kashmir Hostilities Severely Disrupt Airline Operations

 - February 27, 2019, 10:18 AM

Pakistan has closed its entire airspace to commercial traffic, Afghanistan will not allow flights over its territory, and India has closed eight airports in the north of that country in response to Pakistan’s downing of two Indian Air Force jets on Wednesday during escalating tensions in Kashmir.

A Pakistani spokesman said one MiG-21 had fallen inside Pakistani territory and authorities had arrested the pilots. The other, he said, crashed in Indian territory.

Eurocontrol’s first impact assessment shows that closure of the Kabul flight information region (FIR) has affected 400 daily flights, most of which will re-route to the southwest via the Muscat FIR. According to the OpsGroup, Iran will feel a severe effect due to extra flights it will need to accommodate, while Georgia/Azerbaijan will lose more than 100 flights re-routed away from its airspace. Although flights through Turkey will come from the interface with Iran instead of to/from Georgia, the OpsGroup noted that the change should not present a major issue. Finally, it expects re-routings to present a minor impact on Poland, which will need to accommodate roughly 20 extra flights.

While Pakistan’s CAA declared its airspace closed “until further notice,” the Notam remains valid until the end of Thursday. India’s airport closures stand valid for three months, although the OpsGroup said much depends on the political situation as the latest hostilities unfold. For now, it said, operators should consider routings over India carefully.