Pakistan reopens airspace for civil aviation | News | DW | 16.07.2019
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Pakistan reopens airspace for civil aviation

Commercial and cargo flights can now fully access Pakistani airspace for the first time since a skirmish with India in February. The airspace closure had caused costly diversions of international flights.

Pakistan reopened its airspace to civil aviation on Tuesday after months of restrictions imposed amid a tense standoff with neighboring India earlier this year.

"Pakistan's airspace is completely open for all kinds of flights with immediate effect," the country's civil aviation authority said.

Following a deadly suicide attack in February on Indian paramilitary police in the disputed Kashmir region, Indian fighter jets entered Pakistan and launched airstrikes. A few days after the strike, Pakistan's air force shot down an Indian fighter jet and captured its pilot.

Read more: India and Pakistan's troubled history 

Once immediate tensions eased, parts of Pakistani airspace were reopened, but the airspace along the border with India remained closed, affecting many international carriers. 

Pakistan is located in the middle of an important aviation corridor linking the South Asian region with Southeast Asia, and the airspace closure forced hundreds of commercial and cargo flights to make costly diversions every day.

Read more: Kashmir conflict: Pakistan returns captured pilot to India

India's Ministry of Civil Aviation said after the announcement there were no further restrictions on airspace in either country.

"Flights have started using the closed air routes, bringing a significant relief for airlines," it said.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir, which they both claim in full, but rule in part. Since both countries acquired nuclear weapons in 1999, any escalation of military conflict between the two countries has a dangerous risk of a nuclear confrontation.

Read more: Opinion: India, Pakistan, and the remote but real threat of nuclear war

The confrontation over the Kashmir bombing in February was the first incursion of the Indian air force into Pakistani airspace since the two countries fought a war in 1971. 

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wmr  (dpa,Reuters)