India raises issue of overflight clearance for Srinagar-Sharjah flight with Pakistan

Written by Shubhajit Roy
| New Delhi |

Updated: November 5, 2021 6:40:42 am

GoFirst, formerly known as GoAir, operated five flights from Srinagar to Sharjah, following its October 23 launch, using Pakistani airspace. (Photo: Twitter/@GoFirstairways)

India has raised the issue of overflight clearance for Srinagar-Sharjah flight with Pakistan through diplomatic channels and asked them to grant it “in the larger interest of common people”, sources said on Thursday.

Sources said Pakistani authorities had granted overflight clearance to Go First flights to operate the Srinagar-Sharjah sector on October 23, 24, 26 and 28.

Subsequently, Pakistan is learnt to have put clearance for the flight “on hold for the period 31 October to 30 November 2021”.

“This matter was taken up with Pakistan through diplomatic channels and we have requested Pakistan to grant overflight clearance for this flight in the larger interest of the common people who have booked tickets on this route,” the source said.

On Tuesday, Pakistan did not allow Go First’s Srinagar-Sharjah flight to use its airspace, forcing the airline to reroute the service and add 40 minutes to flying time, government officials said. Pakistan’s move comes 10 days after the flight was inaugurated by Home Minister Amit Shah.

The original service took 3 hours and 40 minutes, with the aircraft entering Pakistan airspace, flying over Lahore, proceeding southwest and entering Iranian airspace before landing in Sharjah. On Tuesday, the flight went southward from Srinagar, flying over Rajasthan and Gujarat before heading west to enter UAE through Oman airspace. As a result, the flight duration stretched to 4 hours 20 minutes.

According to information on flight-tracking portal Flightradar24, other flights originating from India to West Asia and Europe continue to use Pakistani airspace. It is the first air connection between J&K and the UAE since 2009, when an Air India Express service between Srinagar and Dubai was shut within months due to poor demand. That flight was also subject to restrictions from Pakistan on using its airspace.

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