New Delhi/Islamabad, Jul 12 : Pakistan has decided not to open its airspace for Indian flights saying it would not do so until India withdraws its fighter planes from the Indo-Pak border.
"The Indian government approached asking us to open the airspace. We conveyed our concerns that first India must withdraw its fighter planes placed forward," Aviation Secretary Shahrukh Nusrat, who is also the director general of the Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) said, reports Dawn newspaper.
Reports further said Nusrat made the statement to the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation on Thursday in response to questions from members of the committee, who were inquiring about profitable and loss-making routes of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
However, when contacted in Delhi, there was no official response. But a source said , "The decision to close the airspace was taken by Pakistan, so it is up to them". "Moreover, there cannot be any negotiation on some sovereign decisions from the Indian side," the source said.
Pakistan closed its airspace for India on February 26 after the Indian Air Force jets struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot following the Pulwama terror attack in Kashmir. Last month, Pakistan had given a special permission to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's VVIP flight to fly directly through Pakistani airspace to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
However, Prime Minister Modi's VVIP aircraft avoided flying over Pakistan.
Earlier, Pakistan had allowed India's former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to use its airspace for his official trip to participate in the meeting of SCO foreign ministers in Bishkek on May 21.
On Thursday, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri told Parliament that due to the closure of Pakistani airspace, Air India had to cough up approximately Rs 430 crores extra.
".....the closure of Pakistani airspace has resulted in Air India cumulatively taking a loss of something like Rs 430 crore," Mr Puri said in Lok Sabha during Question Hour. UNI