Indian carriers are increasingly seeking the government’s nod to fly to the Gulf from western India (mainly Ahmedabad) over the Arabian Sea to avoid the circuitous route over Pakistan. Security fears due to deteriorating India-Pakistan ties as well as economic factors are driving the requests.
With rising tensions between India and Pakistan, there’s growing concern to fly over Pakistan airspace by Indian carriers. The Indian government in past few days have returned few non-scheduled flights from Pakistan and retaliation from them is expected.
Many airlines have sought a direct route to the Gulf under the flexi-use of airspace. The direct access route to Gulf is via Ahmedabad. This airspace is reserved for the air force and navy.
Rising costs is also one of the reasons cited by many Indian carriers to skip the Pakistani airspace. By allowing the Indian carriers to use this direct route, the airlines will not only save fuel and route navigation flight charges (RNFC), but will also generate more RNFC.
For example, Spicejet (Budget airline) would save one lakh rupees if it is allowed direct oceanic route instead of flying over Pakistan for its Ahmedabad-Dubai flight.
Since global warming is a serious issue, saving on fuel will not only lower the flight operating costs, but will also enable reduction in carbon emissions.
Since the direct access to Gulf (via Ahmedabad) involves flying over some sensitive areas, getting clearance from the defence authorities will take time. The Aviation Ministry has been getting such requests from quite some time now and there has been significant progress on this.
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