Just recently, Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry, revealed that Prime Minister Imran Khan is considering a complete closure of Pakistan’s airspace to India while banning the land routes for Indian trade to Afghanistan as well, amidst India’s human rights violation in the Kashmir Valley.
If it comes to pass, this will not be the first time Pakistan would have closed its airspace for its neighbor. The country closed its airspace to India partially in late February and the ban was kept in place for four and a half months.
How Will It Affect India?
In case of airspace of closure, planes coming from and to India will have to opt for a longer route. That will not only increase the flights’ duration but also would increase the fuel usage leading to increase in the fare of airlines.
As per the experts, the duration of flights would increase by 70 to 80 minutes if Pakistan closes its airspace.
Presently, 11 air routes are under the use of Indian flights. At least 50 flights of Air India use Pakistan’s airspace for operations. During the last partial airspace closure, at least 113 flights had to take a longer route.
Almost all the Indian flights bound for the Western regions of the world use Pakistan’s air routes.
In case of the ban on Indian flights, the flight operations going toward India, Middle East, Europe, and America will suffer. In the last ban, Air India suffered a loss of INR 5.48 billion, and that was during the partial ban.
The loss would increase manifold if the airspace is closed completely.
How Will It Affect Pakistan?
While India will suffer a lot because of the airspace closure, Pakistan will not benefit out of it either.
However, Pakistan’s loss will less than half of India’s.
Pakistan will face loss because of the closure because it will not be receiving the overflying fees for letting India use its airspace.
The overflying fee is one of the most effective ways of earning foreign exchange.
Furthermore, Pakistan’s decision to close its airspace can trigger a similar step from India, which will increase its losses.
Pakistan flights towards Eastern countries pass through the Indian airspace to reach their destination. Hence, flights operating between Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, and even Australia will lead to an increase in flight durations and ultimately in fares.