Nine airports in north India shut amid tension with Pakistan

Amid border tensions, international flights that transit between Indian, Pakistan airspace affected: Sources

Srinagar/New Delhi: Nine airports, including the ones in Srinagar and Jammu, were closed on Wednesday for civilian air traffic amid escalating tension with Pakistan, officials said.

Airports at Srinagar, Jammu, Leh, Pathankot, Amritsar, Shimla, Kangra, Kullu Manali, Pithoragarh were among those closed, they said. The move to close the airports comes amid escalation of tension between India and Pakistan after the IAF carried out strikes on terror bases in Pakistan.  In Srinagar, an official of the Airports Authority of India told PTI, “The civilian air traffic has been suspended temporarily in view of the emergency”.

While the official did not specify the nature of the emergency, it is believed the step was taken in view of an IAF jet crashing in Budgam district this morning. Officials said they received instructions from air traffic controllers that the airports have been shut for civilian flights. Some of the flights en route to Jammu, Leh and Srinagar airports have been diverted to their origin stations, they added.

Airports at Chandigarh, Pathankot, Halwara are Bathinda have been put on high alert. Guru Ram Dass International Airport Director Manoj Chansoria said the arrival and departure of all civil flights from Amritsar International Airport has been suspended. Commercial operations from Chandigarh international airport are on. Earlier operations at Chandigarh were halted for sometime.

“Commercial operations are on,” Chandigarh Airport director Suneel Dutt said. Vistara Airlines said in a tweet, “Due to airspace restrictions flights to and from Amritsar, Srinagar and Jammu are currently on hold. Chandigarh is now open again for flights”. Jet Airways said that in “line with the instructions received from Delhi ATC regarding airport closure Jet Airways flight operations to and from Amritsar, Jammu, Srinagar and Leh have been suspended until further notice”.

Punjab’s six border districts of Fazilka, Ferozepur, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Amritsar are on high alert since Tuesday. Deputy Commissioners and SSPs of border areas have been asked to put in place all contingency plans to ensure protection and safety of citizens, officials said.

The international flights that transit between India and Pakistan airspace have been affected due to the cross border tensions between the two countries, sources told ANI. “International flights that transit between Indian and Pakistani airspace now being affected. Some flights returning to origin, while others appear to be seeking alternate routing,” sources told ANI.

In a statement, Vistara said, “Due to airspace restrictions, flights to and from Amritsar, Srinagar, Chandigarh and Jammu are currently on hold. Customers are requested to check flight status before commencing their journey to the airport.” A high-level meeting was called by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh where CISF DG Rajesh Ranjan was present. He briefed MHA about the security preparedness of airports.

(With inputs from ANI)

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