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Pakistan shuts airbases, airports, several flights delayed

ANI | Updated: Feb 27, 2019 18:51 IST

New Delhi [India], Feb 27 (ANI): Amid the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan, Islamabad closed its airbases and airports which led to delay of several flights.
Qatar Airways issued a statement wherein it asserted that due to the ongoing situation on the India-Pakistan border, its flights to the following airports are currently temporarily suspended.
"Qatar Airways can confirm that due to the ongoing situation on the India-Pakistan border, its flights to the following airports are currently temporarily suspended: Faisalabad, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar and Sialkot," read the statement issued by Qatar Airways.
It added, "Other flights routed over India-Pakistan aerospace may also experience delays due to rerouting around the affected area. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this situation, the safety and security of our passengers remains Qatar Airways’ top priority."
Meanwhile, Etihad Airways also issued a statement informing the passengers about the flight delay.
Etihad Airways Spokesperson said, "Due to airspace and airport closures in Pakistan, Etihad Airways flights EY233 Abu Dhabi (AUH) - Islamabad (ISB) and EY243 Abu Dhabi (AUH) - Lahore (LHE), both due to depart 1400 February 27, are being held until further notice. Flight EY290 Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Kathmandu (KTM) is returning to AUH as a result of the en route airspace closure and is due to land at 1400. Our Guest Control team is actively working to support affected guests. This is an evolving situation and updates will follow as it develops. The safety and security of our guests will always be our number one priority at Etihad Airways and we continue to monitor the situation."
Meanwhile, the airspace over Leh, Srinagar, Jammu, Pathankot and areas bordering Pakistan were also shut indefinitely earlier today in the wake of the security situation building up in the area.
With all Indian establishments put on high alert in view of possible air space violation by Pakistan, the Indian government decided to shut the air space for commercial and civilian flights. Several commercial flights have been put on hold.
Flight operations have been suspended at the Amritsar airport, too.
"Due to operational reasons, the airspace at Amritsar has been closed for now. No commercial flights are coming to Amritsar, there is no base here, so flights are not even taking off from here," AP Acharya, Director of the Amritsar Airport, told ANI.
Vistara, in a statement, said: "Due to airspace restrictions, flights to and from Amritsar, Srinagar, Chandigarh and Jammu are currently on hold. Customers are requested to check flight status before commencing their journey to the airport."
A high-level meeting was called by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in which CISF DG Rajesh Ranjan was also present. He briefed MHA about the security preparedness of airports.
All inconvenience meted out to the passengers have been regretted by the respective airlines.
Meanwhile, Dubai Airports also confirmed that the flights to and from Pakistan have been impacted until further notice due to the closure of Pakistani airspace.
"We are working closely with airlines, control authorities and air traffic controllers to minimise operational impact and customer inconvenience," the airport authorities stated. 
Singapore International Airlines also issued a statement to inform passengers about the flight delay. 
"In view of the closure of Pakistani airspace, the following Europe-bound flights will make refuelling stops en route before proceeding to their destinations:
Singapore to London
SQ308 operating from Singapore to London on 27 February 2019 will stop in Dubai for refuelling before proceeding to London.
SQ318 operating from Singapore to London on 27 February 2019 will stop in Mumbai for refuelling before proceeding to London," stated the SIA spokesperson. 
The spokesperson further informed that 'SQ326' operating from Singapore to Frankfurt on 27 February 2019 will stop in Mumbai for refuelling before proceeding to Frankfurt, provided it is able to arrive in Frankfurt before the airport's curfew.
"However, due to the delay, SQ325 operating from Frankfurt to Singapore on 27 February is cancelled and passengers will be transferred to other airlines. All other flights that overfly affected airspace will be rerouted, but are due to operate as scheduled at this point," the SIA spokesperson informed. 
On February 26, India carried out air strikes on a terror camp run by Jaish-E-Mohammad in Balakot, a hill town in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Soon after that the Pakistani side started building up for a confrontation and resorted to ceasefire violation in Rajouri.
There were reports that the Pakistani Air Force jets violated Indian airspace in the Rajouri sector, and dropped bombs near Indian Army establishments. No casualties have been reported so far. (ANI)

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