Airlines count cost of Pakistan-India tensions
December 28, 2001 Posted: 7:38 PM HKT (1138 GMT)
(CNN) -- Pakistani and Indian airlines are faced with the need to rapidly alter their schedules following the announcement of overflight sanctions as the latest stage in the row between New Delhi and Islamabad.
On Thursday India announced it was withdrawing rights for the Pakistani carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), to overfly its territory.
Hours later Pakistan slapped the same restrictions on all Indian airlines.
However, simply as a factor of geography the measures could hit PIA harder than its Indian counterparts.
With the massive presence of India on its eastern flank the Pakistani airline is now faced with expensive detours, adding extra time and fuel costs to several of its routes.
Flights from Pakistan to East and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia will be forced to skirt around the Indian peninsula adding what could amount to several hours to each trip.
The added mileage may also mean costly refueling stops as PIA is not thought to have sufficient aircraft capable of flying the extra distance without stopping.
The 11 flights a week that PIA operated to Indian destinations will be suspended completely from Saturday.
The extra financial burden for PIA comes as the global airline industry as a whole faces one of its most difficult periods.
Already the state-run airline is reported to have lost some $35 million in the first half of 2000.
However, an official at Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority quoted in the Financial Times said Islamabad's retaliatory sanctions would hurt Indian carriers far harder.
"India uses Pakistani airspace for more than 112 flights a week," the unnamed official said was quoted as saying.
The ban on use of Pakistani airspace could add anything from 20 minutes to an hour onto the duration of those flights.