Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s has decided to not use Pakistani airspace to Bishkek for the SCO summit. This decision was announced after Delhi request Pakistani to allow Modi’s plane to fly over Pakistan. The request was made through Indian High Commission in Delhi. On the other hand, federal minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan announced today that airspace will be opened for 72 hours to allow Modi’s plane. But maybe this was too late for Indian to plan Modi’s journey.
Indian external affairs ministry announced that “the government of India had explored two options for the route to be taken by the VVIP aircraft to Bishkek. A decision has now been taken that the VVIP aircraft will fly via Oman, Iran and Central Asian countries on the way to Bishkek,”.
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Pakistan had earlier approved “in principle” India’s request to allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aircraft to fly over its airspace to Bishkek to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit this week.
India had requested Pakistan to let Prime Minister Modi’s aircraft fly over its airspace to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan to attend the SCO summit on June 13-14.
The Pakistani official confirmed that the Imran Khan government had “approved in principle the Indian government’s request to let Prime Minister Modi’s aircraft fly over the Pakistani airspace to Bishkek”.
Pakistan had fully closed its airspace on February 26 after an Indian Air Force (IAF) strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot. Since then, it has only opened two routes, both of them pass through southern Pakistan, of the total 11.
Pakistan had given special permission to India’s then external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to fly directly through Pakistani airspace to attend the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meet in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on May 21.
Apart from the Boeing 747-400 owned by Air India and used on international state visits, the IAF currently owns four 14 seaters Embraer 135, four 20 seaters Embraer 145 and three customised 46 seaters Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) that have a VIP cabin and are used for VIP movement. Of these, the Boeing 747s are used by either the Prime Minister, President or Vice President when on official overseas visits.
The Indian Air Force announced on May 31 that all temporary restrictions imposed on Indian airspace post the Balakot airstrike have been removed. However, it is unlikely to benefit any commercial airliners unless Pakistan reciprocates and opens its complete airspace.