NEW DELHI: Pakistan has denied permission to President Ram Nath Kovind‘s Air India One plane to use its airspace next week for his flight to Iceland.
The Boeing 747 will now take the longer route when the President leaves on Monday (September 9) for Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia.
Similarly, on return from his three-nation tour on September 17, the VVIP flight will again have to take the longer path back home.
According to the Pakistani media, the country’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Saturday told state broadcaster PTV that the decision “was approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan.”
“Schedule flights’ flight plan is cleared in advance by all countries they fly over. For special flights and charters (which are not schedule flights), permission is sought via diplomatic channels from various countries on the flight path. For the President’s Europe trip, Pakistan did not give clearance to use its airspace,” said sources.
Now, the President’s flying time to and from Europe will increase by 50 minutes as it will tentatively take the following route: Delhi-near Mumbai-Arabian Sea (steering clear of Pakistan airspace around Karachi) — Muscat — and then to Europe.
In case of a straight path, the plane would have gone from Delhi to Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran and then Europe.
Pakistan had closed its airspace for overflying on February 27 following Indian Air Force’s Balakot strike and had re-opened it after 138 days on July 16. During this time, all West-bound flights from Delhi took the longer route.
In June, Prime Minister Modi
flew from Delhi to Bishkek
. Due to the longer route, his AI One covered a distance of 5,475 km with a block time (time from when aircraft door closes for departure to when it opens at destination on landing) of 6 hours and 30 minutes.
The straight route over Pakistan would have meant covering a distance 2,585 km with a block time of 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Taking the longer route from Delhi to Gujarat-Arabian Sea-Oman-Iran-Central Asia-Bishkek meant covering 2,890 km extra and increased flying time of two hours and 45 minutes.
In Video:President Ram Nath Kovind’s plane cannot enter our airspace, says Pakistan Source