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Pakistan Partially Reopens Airspace

by AFP and Newsweek Pakistan

Farooq Naeem—AFP

Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi and Quetta airports to resume partial operations but Lahore airport to remain closed

Pakistan on Friday announced that it was partially reopening its airspace, which it had closed to all traffic on Feb. 27 due to rising tensions between Islamabad and New Delhi.

“We will open our airspace at 6:00 p.m. today” for flights at the Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi and Quetta airports, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesman Aamir Mehboob told AFP. The rest of the airspace would be opened “gradually,” he said.

The official NOTAM (Notification to Airmen) issued states that the airspace apart from the airports listed will remain closed till March 4, at which time a fresh notification will be issued in light of the prevailing situation.

Pakistan’s airspace closure had disrupted major routes between Europe and South Asia and ground thousands of travelers worldwide.

The crisis between nuclear-armed neighbors Pakistan and India had raised fears of an all-out war. But Pakistan said it would release a captured Indian pilot on Friday, in an overture towards New Delhi. India earlier said its forces had also shot down a Pakistani fighter jet—a claim denied by Islamabad—as Pakistan suddenly closed its airspace early Wednesday.

Pakistan’s civil aviation authorities said they had allowed some flights to depart on Thursday. They were an Emirates service from Peshawar to Dubai, an Air Arabia flight from Peshawar to Ras Al Khaimah in the U.A.E. and a Qatar Airways flight from Peshawar to Doha.

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