Airlines reroute flights after India, Pakistan fighters downed
|Toronto Star 27 Feb 2019 at 17:30|
Global airlines are rerouting and cancelling flights after fighter-jet combat between India and Pakistan prompted airspace closures and airport shutdowns, disrupting crucial routes for commercial planes.
United Continental Holdings Inc. flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to Delhi was rerouted to London and later cancelled, 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.
Pakistan says 2 Indian warplanes downed, pilot captured
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 was working on alternative arrangements for customers to reach their destinations, said Charlie Hobart, a company spokesman.
“We are closely monitoring this situation and are in contact with relevant government authorities,” Hobart said.
Air Canada is operating a Toronto-Mumbai flight later Wednesday that uses a different route, and is evaluating options for service to Delhi from Toronto and Vancouver on Wednesday night, said Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for the carrier.
Earlier, key transcontinental routes connecting Europe and Asia were also affected: Singapore Airlines Ltd. cancelled a Frankfurt-Singapore flight. Westbound trips to London and Frankfurt were forced to divert, causing them to make refuelling 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. Sri Lankan Airlines cancelled 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.