New Delhi: While Indian flights will save time and fuel, the expenses will reduce drastically after Pakistan announced the opening of its airspace for civil traffic, according to Air India, Director (Operations) Captain Amitabh Singh.
On being asked to respond on Pakistan's decision to open its airspace for civil traffic, Singh on Tuesday told ANI, "With this opening, we will be saving 1.5-2 hours of flying time between India-Europe and India-USA. We will save on fuel consumption too. The expenses will definitely reduce drastically." He added that the decision will be beneficial for both Indian and foreign carriers as the closure had generated inconvenience for the travelling public.
"It is going to be beneficial for Indian carriers as well as for foreign carriers. The closure generated a lot of inconvenience for the travelling public," he opined. This response came after neighbouring country Pakistan on Tuesday morning announced the opening of its airspace for civil traffic, which was closed over four months back after the Balakot strikes. Earlier this month, the Centre had informed Rajya Sabha that Indian airlines suffered losses worth over Rs 548 crore due to airspace closure by Pakistan after the Balakot airstrike in February.
In a written response to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation (Independent Charge) Hardeep Singh Puri had said the national carrier Air India lost Rs 491 crore till July 2, while IndiGo suffered a loss of Rs 25.1 crore till May 31. SpiceJet and GoAir lost Rs 30.73 crore and Rs 2.1 crore, respectively till June 20. "The airspace closure by Pakistan is a unilateral measure that followed the non-military counter-terrorism airstrike by the Indian Air Force against terror camp in Balakot in Pakistan in February 2019," Puri had said in the upper House of Parliament.
Earlier, an Air India official had told ANI that the national carrier was losing 6 crore a day due to airspace closure by Pakistan. Pakistan had earlier claimed that it would not open its airspace for commercial flights until India removed its fighter jets from forwarding Indian airbases. Pakistan had fully shut its airspace on the eastern border with India after the Indian Air Force (IAF) had carried out airstrikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot on February 26.
The strikes on the terror camp were in response to the JeM-perpetrated terror attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir on February 14 in which 40 CRPF personnel had lost their lives. In mid-April, Pakistan opened one of its 11 air routes for westbound flights from India -- airlines like Air India and Turkish Airlines have started using it. In March, the neighbouring country partially opened its airspace but did not allow Indian flights to fly over its airspace.