China opens up airspace in response to India-Pakistan crisis

By Liu Caiyu/Global Times
01 March 2019
China opens up airspace in response to India-Pakistan crisis
A general view of New Islamabad International Airport. Photo: EPA

China is taking positive measures to deal with international flights after Pakistan shut down its airspace, opening part of Chinese airspace for foreign airlines to reroute. 

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) immediately launched an emergency plan to notify domestic flight companies and cooperate with the air force to ensure the safety of flights and approve temporary flight plans. 

The notice came after Beijing Capital International Airport cancelled all flights to and from Pakistan on Wednesday and Thursday, including connecting flights, according to a statement sent to the Global Times by the North China Air Traffic Management Bureau under the CAAC on Thursday.

Whether those flights will fly on Friday as scheduled is still unknown.

The bureau said that 22 flights fly in and out of Pakistan every week, including two from Air China and other flights from Pakistan International Airlines. 

Flights to Pakistan have undergone major changes in recent days and the CAAC reminded passengers to check flight information before they make plans, said the statement. 

Pakistan airspace remained closed Thursday morning local time. All international and domestic commercial flights in and out of Pakistan were cancelled until further notice, CNN quoted Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority as saying.

Civilian aviation experts reached by the Global Times said flights from the Middle East that usually overfly Pakistan and the Pakistan-India border will have to reroute over India, Myanmar or central Asia to enter China. 

At the request of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the CAAC opened part of China's airspace and air routes for foreign airlines to reroute, China National Radio reported. 

As of 10 pm Thursday, 28 domestic airlines affected by the closure of Pakistani airspace adjusted flight plans and 49 foreign flights used Chinese airspace to reroute. 

According to flight tracking company Flightradar on Twitter, all flights in and out of Pakistan had stopped on Wednesday. Flights from carriers including Singapore Airlines, Finnair, British Airways, Aeroflot and Air India had to detour, Flightradar said. About 800 flights a day use the India-Pakistan air corridor, according to Reuters.

Tension between India and Pakistan continued to escalate on Thursday after the two said they had shot down each other's warplanes, AFP reported on Thursday.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang on Thursday called for restraint from both sides, saying that China hoped India and Pakistan would find a solution through dialogue.

Courtesy Global Times