In a massive relief for air travellers and airlines, Pakistan reopened its airspace for all flights after a gap of six months since the IAF launched strikes in Balakot.

Hours after the announcement, an Air India flight from San Francisco to Delhi became the first Indian aircraft to fly over the neighbouring country and reach the destination 90 minutes early.

What were the consequences of closed airspace by Pakistan?
The curb meant airlines had to take a longer route to their destinations and burn more fuel, stop midway for refuelling and roster more pilots and cabin crew as their duty hours are regulated.

An increase in fuel expenses, which constitute 40% of an airline’s operational costs, resulted in an increase in fares and, in some cases, cancellation of flights.

“With the reopening of Pakistan’s airspace, aircraft utilisation will go up and crew requirement will come down by 25%. Operational costs for the U.S.-bound flights may come down by Rs. 20 lakh one way, and for the Europe-bound flights by Rs. 5 lakh. From Tuesday night, we expect all our flights to return to the original schedule,” Air India spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar said.