Just over a week after its inauguration by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the Srinagar-Sharjah flight faced a hiccup on Tuesday after Pakistan refused airspace to the airline, forcing it to take a longer route, sources said today.
They said that the airline had to change the path of a Srinagar-bound flight after Pakistan closed its airspace. “Effective yesterday (Tuesday), Go First has to change the flight path since Pakistan refused right to airspace,” said a source. As a result, the flights will take a longer time to reach their destinations, he said.
The first few flights between Srinagar and Sharjah used Pakistani airspace. On October 23, Union Home Minister Amit Shah flagged off the first flight from Srinagar to Sharjah at Srinagar Airport, reviving the direct link between the Valley and the UAE after 11 years.
The first international flight from the Srinagar airport to Dubai was started on February 14, 2009 by Air India Express, but the once-a-week service was discontinued due to a low demand.
Soon after Shah’s inauguration, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah had said “Srinagar-Sharjah flight will die the same way as Srinagar-Dubai flight died with Pakistan did not allow flights originating from Srinagar to use its airspace.”
Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, Omar tweeted, “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.” In another tweet, he said, “Because of Pakistan’s cussed refusal to allow flights originating from Srinagar to use its airspace the SXR-DXB flight had to take a ‘technical halt’ in Delhi or had to fly south & go around Pakistan airspace. This made the flight completely unviable both in terms of cost & time.”