The new Srinagar-Sharjah direct flight, flagged off recently by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, could be discontinued as Pakistan has refused to allow the Go First Airlines to use its airspace. As a result, the flight is taking a longer route over Rajasthan, Gujarat to fly to Sharjah.
National Conference leader and former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah compared this development with the discontinuation of Srinagar-Dubai flight 11 years back. “Pakistan did the same with the Air India Express flight from Srinagar to Dubai in 2009-2010. I had hoped that GoFirst airways being permitted to overfly Pak airspace was indicative of a thaw in relations but alas that wasn’t to be,” Abdullah tweeted on Wednesday (November 3).
PDP president Mehbooba Mufi criticised the government for starting the flight service without doing the required groundwork. “Puzzling that GOI didn’t even bother securing permission from Pakistan to use its airspace for international flights from Srinagar. Only PR extravaganza without any groundwork,” she tweeted.
On October 23, Omar Abdullah had expressed doubts if Pakistan would indeed allow the Srinagar-Sharjah flight to use its airspace. “Regarding the Srinagar-Sharjah flight that has been announced today – has Pakistan had a change of heart & allowed flights originating from Srinagar to use its airspace? If not then this flight will die the way the Srinagar-Dubai flight died during UPA2,” Abdullah had tweeted then.
Pakistan recently granted permission to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special VVIP flight to use its airspace while flying to Italy, where he attended the G20 summit. Modi’s flight returned to Delhi using the same route.
In September too Pakistan had allowed Modi’s flight to use its air space to travel to Washington. India had responded by allowing Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s flight to use India’s airspace when he was flying to Sri Lanka.