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Airlines reroute flights as India, Pakistan fighters downed

Anurag Kotoky and Mary Schlangenstein

Bloomberg

 /  Thu, February 28, 2019  /  12:25 pm
Airlines reroute flights as India, Pakistan fighters downed

The disruptions cut off the shortest routes for such flights as Singapore to London, Kuala Lumpur to Frankfurt and Hong Kong to Dubai, based on data compiled by gcmap.com. (Bloomberg/File)

Global airlines are rerouting and canceling flights after fighter-jet combat between India and Pakistan prompted airspace closures and airport shutdowns, disrupting crucial routes for commercial planes.

A United Continental Holdings Inc. flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to Delhi was re-routed to London and later canceled, while a Newark-Mumbai flight was shifted to Frankfurt. An Air Canada flight from Toronto to Delhi turned back Tuesday night over Ireland and was scrubbed when it arrived back in Canada. A Vancouver-Delhi flight also was scrapped.

The South Asian nations are engaged in the most serious military confrontation in decades, after India said on Tuesday it killed hundreds of militants in a camp inside Pakistan. Pakistan retaliated by shooting down two Indian aircraft and capturing at least one pilot, while India said it downed a Pakistani jet. Pakistan closed its airspace, while airports in North India were shut for hours before restrictions were lifted.

Read also: Pakistan shoots down Indian jets, carries out airstrikes in Kashmir

Shortest route

The disruptions cut off the shortest routes for such flights as Singapore to London, Kuala Lumpur to Frankfurt and Hong Kong to Dubai, based on data compiled by gcmap.com.

United said it would continue to operate its Newark-Mumbai and Newark-Delhi flights Wednesday night, flying around Pakistani airspace, and warned customers they would experience “extended flight times.” The carrier made the decision “after working with relevant government authorities and conducting a thorough safety and security review,” according to an emailed statement.

Air Canada is operating a Toronto-Mumbai flight later Wednesday that uses a different route, said Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for the carrier. The airline canceled service to Delhi from Toronto on Wednesday night, and from Vancouver on Thursday.

Asia, Europe

Earlier, key transcontinental routes connecting Europe and Asia were also affected:

  • Singapore Airlines Ltd. canceled a Frankfurt-Singapore flight.
  • Westbound trips to London and Frankfurt were forced to divert, causing them to make refueling stops in Dubai or Mumbai, the carrier said in a statement.
  • Thai Airways International Pcl scrapped flights between Bangkok and London, citing “escalated tensions between India and Pakistan.” The airspace shutdown also will affect flights to 11 countries in Europe, the carrier said.
  • SriLankan Airlines canceled flights to the Pakistani cities of Karachi and Lahore on Thursday following the airspace closing.
  • The U.A.E. Aviation Authority suspended flights to Pakistan, Al Arabiya reported.
  • The impact on some Indian airports weighed on domestic operations as well. IndiGo, India’s largest carrier, Singapore Airlines-affiliate Vistara, Jet Airways India Ltd. and Go Air said flights were suspended at several airports.

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