A group of 25 Danish students stay overnight at Suvarnabhumi Airport after they were unable to board a connecting flight Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Bangkok, Thailand. A temporary closure of air space over Pakistan snarled air traffic Thursday, especially between Asia and Europe, though some airlines adjusted by rerouting their flights. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Closure of Pakistan air space snarls flights across Asia

Pakistan aviation authorities said the country’s air space would reopen as of midnight Thursday

A temporary closure of air space over Pakistan snarled air traffic Thursday, especially between Asia and Europe, though some airlines adjusted by rerouting their flights.

In Bangkok, an important and busy hub for transcontinental flights, thousands of travellers were stranded.

Bangkok airport officials said over 4,000 travellers were affected. Those needing help were getting access to accommodations and alternative travel arrangements, they said, though some of those stranded complained they were getting no help at all.

The terminal was so crowded that the chief of Thailand’s immigration police, Surachate Hakparn, tweeted a warning to “Please spare your time for your trip!”

The disruptions marked an unhappy end to a month-long tropical holiday for a group of 25 Danish students unable to board a connecting flight in Bangkok.

“The guard over there just said we have to go down to the basement to sleep. So we can’t get any help or information,” said Sara Bjerregaard Larsen, 21.

Thai Airways says it had rerouted flights to Europe outside Pakistani air space. Malaysia Airlines also said in a travel advisory on its website that it was avoiding air space over Pakistan and northern India “until further notice.”

The first available flight to London on Thai Airways, according to its booking website, was Thursday, March 7.

READ MORE: Air Canada suspends service to India as tensions rise with Pakistan

Pakistan aviation authorities said the country’s air space would reopen as of midnight Thursday (1900 GMT). The government closed it Wednesday after Pakistan said its military had shot down two Indian warplanes and captured a pilot, escalating tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.

India also suspended flights though some of its northern airports on Wednesday. Those facilities were back to normal on Thursday, but flights both to the U.S. and Europe out of New Delhi were affected.

A United flight from Newark, New Jersey, to New Delhi was rerouted through London and later cancelled, and Air Canada cancelled flights from Toronto and Vancouver to the Indian capital.

Air China cancelled its flight Thursday from Beijing to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. According to an employee of the airline’s publicity office in Beijing, the status of other flights would be decided later.

The closing of Pakistan’s airspace saw Gulf Arab airlines, which serve as a link between East and West in global travel, rapidly reshuffle their flights.

In the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, civil aviation authorities immediately halted their flights to Pakistan. Airlines in those countries include the long-haul carriers Etihad, Emirates and Gulf Air.

Saudi Arabian Airlines and Oman Air similarly cancelled flights to Pakistan. Pakistanis work in a variety of blue- and white-collar jobs across the Gulf Arab states.

Sakchai Lalit, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chemainus animal sanctuary needs your vote in nationwide contest

RASTA is up for $5,000 from Nutram; contest runs until May 31

Heartfelt memories of Derek Descoteau four years later

Victim of Chemainus murder and his brother leave a huge impact on a large group of friends

Ladysmith PRC restarts registered programming June 1

The programming will feature a mix of live Zoom classes, and outdoor in-person classes

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Chemainus family pledges $50,000 to Chemainus Theatre Crisis Relief Fund

The Hilton family pledged $50,000 toward a matched fund. If fully matched, it will raise $100,000

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

Tahsis opens its gates to visitors to save local economy

Seasonal local businesses that rely on tourism hope to survive despite drop in tourist numbers

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

Study looks at feasibility of Vancouver Island abattoir

South Island Prosperity Partnership funds study looking at local meat processing

Island city cancels plan for homeless camp; exploring alternative option

The plan heard strong objection from neighbouring residents and businesses

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

Most Read