Highly concerned over a deepening frostiness in bilateral ties between Pakistan and India, private airlines in the country have sought the government’s consent to fly to the Gulf from western India over the Arabian sea to avoid Pakistani airspace.
As of now, a majority of private airlines including Jet Airways, IndiGo and SpiceJet, as well as the government carrier Air India operate flights to Gulf via the Pakistan route.
“In the past few days, India has asked some non-scheduled aircraft flying from Pakistan to return and Pakistan may also retaliate. This is one fear that is behind the demand and the other is pure and simple cost factors,” said an airline official.
SpiceJet has sought direct access for its flights from Ahmedabad to the Gulf under the “flexi-use of airspace”, which allows commercial aircraft to use the airspace reserved for air force and the navy.
The official reason given by SpiceJet is to save fuel and route navigation flight charges (RNFC). The airline also claimed that the direct oceanic route would help SpiceJet save Rs 1 lakh as well as reduce carbon emissions.
But defence authorities are yet to give clearance to the direct access as it involves flying over some sensitive areas, but an official was quoted as saying that a lot of requests have already been received and progress has been made on the issue.