Pakistan on Tuesday declined permission for use of its airspace to Go First's Srinagar-Sharjah flight, inaugurated by Union Home Minister Amit Shah during his visit to the Valley last month.
Due to the decision, the flight from Srinagar to Sharjah will take more than an hour longer as planes will have to fly via Udaipur, Ahmedabad and Oman. The flight will also be more expensive.
On October 23, by flagging off the inaugural flight from the Sheikh Ul-Alam international airport in Srinagar, Shah had restored the direct air link between the valley and the UAE after 11 years. According to officials, until October 31, the flight was cruising through the Pak air corridor without impediment.
No reasons were assigned by the Pakistan government for refusing the permission, officials said. Go First, too, did not respond to PTI's request for a statement on this matter.
Air India Express had started a Srinagar-Dubai flight in February 2009 but it was discontinued after some time due to low demand.
Reacting to Pakistan's action, former J&K chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted that it was very unfortunate. ‘‘Pakistan did the same thing with the Air India Express flight from Srinagar to Dubai in 2009-2010. I had hoped that @GoFirstairways being permitted to fly over Pak airspace was indicative of a thaw in relations but alas that wasn't to be."
Blaming the Centre, PDP chief and former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: "It is puzzling that the Government of India didn't even bother securing permission from Pakistan to use its airspace for international flights from Srinagar. Only PR extravaganza without any groundwork."
Go First was known in its earlier avatar as GoAir.
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