Monday, September 09, 2019

India unlikely to seek Pak nod again for Air India One flights

New Delhi: India is unlikely to seek Pakistan's nod again to use its airspace for Air India One flights in foreseeable future, at least till relations between the two countries improve. Sources in the know said, "diplomatically they (Pakistan) will not be asked for our AI One (operated on AI Boeing 747s for medium to long haul routes) or IAF One (operated on IAF's Boeing Business Jets for short hauls). We will take alternate (longer) routes to and from the west for these VVIP flights operated for the President, V-P and Prime Minister."
Pakistan had on Saturday denied permission for AI One to use its airspace while flying President Kovind on a European tour this week. "When they have said no once, there is no point in us approaching them again," said sources. The longer route to between Delhi and the west means an extra flying time of up to an hour for VVIP flights which are low on passenger load and can uplift more fuel from origin.
Giving clearances to VVIP flights is a normal diplomatic process globally. "We regret the decision of the government of Pakistan to deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country. We call upon Pakistan to recognise the futility of such unilateral actions," external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said on Saturday.
While closure and denial of airspace by Pakistan is a relatively new phenomenon, many foreign airlines that employe Indian nationals as pilots do not put Indian crew on duty for operating flights to Pakistan. If you wonder why, a senior Indian pilot, who has worked with such airlines, gives the reason.
09/09/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India
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