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Russia closes its airspace to PIA flights

ISLAMABAD: Russia has closed its airspace for Pakistan’s national flag carrier because of PIA’s failure to get the required authorisation timely renewed.

PIA Pakistan NewsThe restriction came at a time when Russia had liberalised its airspace through historic relaxation of its airspace regulations.

The Public Relations Department of PIA confirmed the closure of the Russian airspace for the airline, but did not specify the reason.

However, sources told Dawn that PIA had not applied for renewal of permission in time and in a proper manner, leading to the ban.

Russian airspace, aviation sources say, is the shortest route for Europe and North America.

The move will result in 15 to 20 minutes of extra flying time for most of the flights from Pakistan to Europe, the United States and Canada and back and increase the cost of flights. About 80 flights a week using Russian airspace for overflight will be affected.

Although calculation of the increase in the cost of flights is a complicated matter, the extra flying time, conservative estimates show, will cost the financially-crippled carrier an additional Rs120 million a week in fuel expenses.

Prima facie it appears to be a case of negligence, but a senior pilot said it could be an action of commission rather than omission.

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