Home » Top Stories » ‘Afghan airspace closed for flights’, Air India Kabul flight cancelled – Times of India

‘Afghan airspace closed for flights’, Air India Kabul flight cancelled – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The Afghanistan airspace has reportedly been closed for all flights, including overflying, say airline sources. Air India’s nonstops enroute from the US to India are being diverted so that they do not enter the Afghan airspace.
These flights will divert to Doha or UAE and after refuelling fly to Delhi. Due to airspace closure, Air India had to cancel its Delhi-Kabul-Delhi flight that was supposed to operate on Monday. Vistara says it has stopped overflying Afghan airspace on its Delhi-London flights.
This closure will mean all flights between Delhi and the west, will have to take a longer alternate routes. Many other international flights flying between the east and the west will also be affected.
As the airspace restrictions kicked in, Air India’s Chicago-Delhi was enroute. It took a u-turn just before the Afghan airspace and is now diverting to Doha/UAE for refuelling before continuing its journey to Delhi. A Terra Avia Baku-Delhi also changed course enroute for the same reason.
This happened late Monday morning (India time) when the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) advising transit aircraft to reroute. The NOTAM added that Kabul airspace had been released to the military. ACAA said any transit through Kabul airspace — which covers all of Afghanistan — would be uncontrolled.
“Afghan airspace has been declared uncontrolled. Due to that the Kabul flight had to be cancelled. We are working out alternate routes for another affected flights that needed to overly Afghanistan,” said an AI official.
A Vistara spokesperson said: “We have stopped using Afghanistan airspace and are taking an alternate route for our flights to and from London Heathrow. We are closely working with the relevant authorities to monitor and assess the situation and taking necessary steps to ensure the safety of our passengers, staff and aircraft.”
“Air India flight 244 Kabul-Delhi on August 16, 2021, stands cancelled,” a passenger who was booked to fly back to Delhi on this flight got this message on Monday while at Kabul airport. The Airbus A320 was fully booked on the return flight to Delhi, with 33 passengers from Monday’s flight who could not reach the airport.
Thousands of people are gathered at Kabul airport, including on the tarmac to fly out of the country. Troops guarding the airport had to fire in air several times to disperse the crowds.
Afghan airspace closure will mean flights between the east and the west, and north India and the west, will have to take longer routes. Airlines have prepared alternate for this scenario long time back.
The DGCA had on August 10 asked Indian airlines to “relook at enroute alternates, in case of any diversion while overflying the Afghanistan airspace.” During the long closure of Pakistan airspace over two years back, airlines used to take longer routes.

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