Pakistan denies airspace to Go First’s Srinagar-Sharjah flight

Pakistan has denied use of its airspace to private airline Go First’s Srinagar-Sharjah flight, news agency PTI reported. According to government officials, Pakistan’s refusal on Tuesday forced the flight to take a longer route and fly over Gujarat to reach its destination in the UAE, adding around 40 minutes to the flight time.

Till October 31, the flight was going through Pakistan airspace.

The Pakistan government is yet to specify a reason for refusing permission to the flight.

Go First, formerly known as GoAir, is the first airline to start direct international connection from the Kashmir Valley, and has now also become the first airline to start the international cargo services from the sector. It operates four flights a week between Srinagar and Sharjah.

Reacting to the development, former J&K chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah termed Pakistan’s action as “very unfortunate”.

“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 overfly Pak airspace was indicative of a thaw in relations but alas that wasn’t to be,” he tweeted.

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 overfly Pak airspace was indicative of a thaw in relations but alas that wasn’t to be. https://t.co/WhXzLbftxf

— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) November 3, 2021

PDP chief and former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, meanwhile, blamed the Central government for the incident and tweeted, “Puzzling that GOI didn’t even bother securing permission from Pakistan to use its airspace for international flights from Srinagar. Only PR extravaganza without any groundwork.”

Puzzling that GOI didn’t even bother securing permission from Pakistan to use its airspace for international flights from Srinagar. Only PR extravaganza without any groundwork. https://t.co/3Cbj91C6Pb

— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 3, 2021

Last month, Union Home Minister Amit Shah flagged off the inaugural Srinagar-Sharjah flight from the Sheikh Ul-Alam international airport, reviving the direct airlink between the valley and the UAE after 11 years. Inaugurating the airline service, Shah said it would “boost tourism and bring more investment in the Union Territory.”

Meanwhile, there was no immediate statement or comment from Go First on the matter.

The direct flights from Sharjah offer seamless connections to Srinagar and beyond to Chandigarh, Delhi, Jammu, Leh and Mumbai and vice versa.

Go First is the only airline appointed for the cargo movement of the horticultural, perishable and agricultural produce of the Jammu and Kashmir Horticulture Products, a state-owned company, the airline has said.

The first international flight from the Srinagar airport to Dubai was started on February 14, 2009 by Air India Express, but the once-a-week service was discontinued due to a low demand.

(With PTI inputs)

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