NEW DELHI: Pakistan has declined to use its airspace for flights from Illegal Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir’s (IIOJ&K) Srinagar to Sharjah, which was revived after 11 years.
Due to the decision, the flight from Srinagar to Sharjah will be more than an hour longer as planes will have to fly via Udaipur, Ahmedabad and Oman. The flight will also become more expensive.
Calling the move “very unfortunate”, former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “Pakistan did the same thing with the Air India Express flight from Srinagar to Dubai in 2009-2010. I had hoped that Go First being permitted to overfly Pak airspace was indicative of a thaw in relations, but alas, that wasn’t to be.”
On October 23, Indian Union Home Minister Amit Shah flagged off the inaugural Srinagar-Sharjah flight from the Sheikh Ul-Alam international airport in Srinagar, reviving the direct airlink between the valley and the UAE after 11 years.
Former J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti said it was “puzzling” that the Centre didn’t even bother securing permission from Pakistan to use its airspace for international flights from Srinagar. “Only PR extravaganza without any groundwork,” she said. After the inaugural flight, Omar Abdullah questioned if Pakistan had allowed the use of its airspace.
“The Srinagar-Sharjah flight that has been announced today. Has Pakistan had a change of heart and allowed flights originating from Srinagar to use its airspace? If not, then this flight will die the way the Srinagar-Dubai flight died during UPA2,” Omar Abdullah had tweeted.
A Congress leader pointed out that because of Pakistan’s objection to allowing flights originating from Srinagar, the Srinagar-Dubai flight had to make a “technical halt” in Delhi or had to fly south and go around Pakistan airspace, which made the flight completely unviable both in terms of cost and time.
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