With Pakistan opening its airspace for all commercial airlines on Tuesday morning, Air India said operation costs for one-way US and Europe-bound flights are likely to come down by Rs 20 lakh and Rs 5 lakh, respectively.
After Pakistan closed its airspace following the Balakot air strikes of February 26, Air India suffered a financial loss of over Rs 491 crore as it had to re-route its various international flights.
"As Pakistan airspace is now open, aircraft utilisation will go up, while crew requirement will come down by 25 per cent," an Air India spokesperson said. "Flight operation cost for USA-bound flight may come down by Rs 20 lakh one way and for Europe-bound flights, it may come down by Rs 5 lakh. From now, flight operations may be on original schedule, meaning as it was before the closure of Pakistani airspace," he added.
Between February 26 and July 15, Pakistan had opened only two routes out of 11 for Indian flights. These two routes passed over southern Pakistan.
"The flying time for long-haul flights towards the USA increased by 90 minutes and additional fuel was needed. US-bound flights had to be stopped at Vienna. In Vienna, crew was changed and that takes three hours," he said, explaining the effect the closure had on the airline.
As a result of this, Air India lost Rs 491 crore till July 2, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said in the Rajya Sabha. Post the airstrikes, Air India had to re-route, merge or suspend many of its international flights that connect India with European and US cities.
Private airlines SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir lost Rs 30.73 crore, Rs 25.10 crore and Rs 2.10 crore respectively, data presented by the civil aviation minister stated.