KLM adjusts routes to Asia due to tensions between India, Pakistan

A KLM plane at an icy Schiphol Airport, 12 Feb 2018
A KLM plane at an icy Schiphol Airport, 12 Feb 2018Photo: Zachary Newmark / NL Times

KLM must adjust its routes for almost all flights to Asia because Pakistan closed its airspace to commercial flights due to increased tensions with India. KLM passengers traveling to and from Asian destinations will have to take longer travel times into account as long as the airspace is closed, KLM said, NU.nl reports.

This mainly concerns flights to and from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and India. It is hard to say exactly how many flights and passengers will be affected. "We can only decide shortly before hand which other route we are going to fly, and whether if we could fly over Pakistan we will do it", a spokesperson explained to the newspaper. At this stage it looks like it will "take some time" before the airspace above Pakistan will be open again. 

"It can be very annoying, we realize that too. But if a country forbids us to use is airspace, there's not much we can do to change that, of course", the spokesperson said.

Pakistan decided to close its airspace because tensions in the Kashmir region - an area Pakistan and India share - increased rapidly over the past weeks, according to the newspaper. On Wednesday there were artillery bombardments in the border area. Pakistani fighter planes flew into Indian airspace, but were intercepted by a squadron of the Indian Air Force. An Indian plane crashed in Kashmir on Wednesday. Two pilots and a civilian were killed, according to the local police The Pakistani army also says it shot down two Indian fighter planes above Pakistani territory.