Pakistan airspace is open! In a clearly written, yet quietly announced in-the-dead-of-night Notam, Pakistan has today declared the entirety of its airspace fully open and available for all overflights.
This is very welcome news for long-haul airlines and operators transiting the Middle East and Asia, where finding a usable and safe route route through the region has become akin to navigating a level of Pac-Man with few escape options left.
Pakistan being open again makes the traditional and preferred Europe-Asia route through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and onwards to India available again, and means that city pairs abandoned after the February shutdown will likely be restarted.
The good-news Notam was issued around midnight Pakistan time:
A) OPKR OPLR
B) 1907151908 C) PERM
E) WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT PAKISTAN AIRSPACE IS OPEN FOR
ALL TYPE OF CIVIL TRAFFIC ON PUBLISHED ATS ROUTES
So, what does this mean?
In recent months, operators have had to avoid Pakistan and route much further south, as this graphic from an article we worked on with Reuters in April shows:
The impact has been significant. Avoiding Pakistan has meant up to an additional 410 miles, or an hours flying time, for Europe-Asia flights.
For many long-haul operators trying to get to India, the dog-leg around Pakistan made the trip unworkable, either because of fuel endurance, or crew hours. Many operators cancelled flights to Delhi, the worst located airport in terms of the airspace closure.
Now, with this reopening, we have the ability to fly closer to optimum routings once again.
So, good news for airlines and long-haul operators.