Tension causes global travel chaos | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 01, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, March 01, 2019

Tension causes global travel chaos

Thousands of air travellers stranded as Pakistan closes air space

Thousands of air travellers worldwide were left stranded yesterday after Pakistan closed its airspace in response to escalating tensions with India.

Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it would keep airspace shut until 11.59pm local time (1859 GMT), disrupting major routes between Europe and South East Asia.

Thai Airways has cancelled nearly 30 flights, affecting 5,000 passengers.

"All THAI flights from Bangkok to Europe departing near midnight of 27 FEB through early 28 FEB and from Europe to Bangkok departing on 27 FEB have been cancelled due to Pakistan airspace closure," the airline wrote on its Twitter page.

The decision affected its services to London, Munich, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Vienna, Stockholm, Zurich, Copenhagen and Oslo, but the airline said at around 0530 GMT that it was resuming normal operations to Europe.

Singapore Airlines' was also forced to direct flights to Europe to re-fuel, while a flight to Frankfurt was cancelled.

Saudi Airlines also suspended all flights to Pakistan "until further notice". In Russia, two flights from Moscow to Vietnam and St. Petersburg to Thailand had to turn back to Russia while a Bangkok-bound flight had to land at Uzbekistan.

Air Canada suspended flights to Mumbai and New Delhi, while seven services from Istanbul to Pakistan were cancelled.

Thai Airways struggled to find new routes to Europe with Iran "rejecting" a request to travel over its airspace, according to a spokesperson for the carrier. But a few hours later China gave "permission to Thai Airways ... to bypass Pakistani airspace," according to Pratana Patanasiri, Thai Airways Vice President, allowing Thursday night's flights to Europe to resume.

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