Pakistan has denied Air India One use of its airspace to fly President Ram Nath Kovind to Europe. AI’s Boeing 747 took the longer route when the President left on Monday (Sept 9) for Iceland, Switzerland and Slovenia. He will take the same longer route on his return from the tour on September 17.
According to Pakistani media, the country’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told state broadcaster PTV that the decision to deny President Kovind’s flight use of Pakistani airspace “was approved by Prime Minister Imran Khan”.
“The Indian President had sought permission to use Pakistan’s airspace to travel to Iceland but we decided not to permit him,” Qureshi said, adding the decision has been taken in view of India’s “behaviour”.
Prez’s flight time to rise by 50 minutes
Responding to questions, the MEA spokesperson said, “We regret the decision of the government of Pakistan to deny overflight clearance for the VVIP special flight which is otherwise granted routinely by any normal country.” The MEA spokesperson said, “We call upon Pakistan to recognise the futility of such unilateral actions.” Now the President’s flying time to and from Europe will increase by 50 minutes. The straight route would have entailed flying from Delhi to Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran to Europe.
Pakistan had closed its airspace for overflying on February 27 following the IAF’s Balakot strike and had reopened the same after 138 days on July 16. During this time all flights between Delhi and the West took the longer route.