Thai Airways flights between Europe and capital Bangkok resumed on Thursday morning (February 28) following disruption caused by the closure of Pakistani airspace on Wednesday (February 27).
Heightened tensions between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir and Jammu regions have led to sporadic skirmishing along the border between the two countries in recent days and weeks.
Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority confirmed on Wednesday morning it had shut its airspace “until further notice”.
Eurocontrol said it was working with more than 40 airlines operating in Europe to address the issue and alleviate disruption.
Among those airlines most severely affected was Thai Airways, which was forced to cancel all European routes due to the closure of Pakistani airspace. Routes to the popular south-east Asian holiday destination tend to fly over a section of northern Pakistan.
The airline cited the “sudden closure” of Pakistani airspace as a result of tension “between India and Pakistan” for the cancellations, adding all flights from Bangkok to Europe departing around midnight on Wednesday into the early hours of Thursday morning had been cancelled.
Three flights, including one to London, turned around and returned to Bangkok. In total, 11 Bangkok-Europe flights were cancelled (one to London) and 10 Europe-Bangkok (one to London).
Other European airports affected included Munich, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Vienna, Stockholm, Zurich, Copenhagen, Oslo and Frankfurt.
Flight lieutenant Pratana Patanasiri, Thai Airways vice-president aviation safety, security and standards, confirmed on Thursday the airline had sought authority from China to divert flights using its airspace.
“Their airways is monitoring the situation closely in order to properly assess the situation,” said the airline in a statement. “All passengers are advised to check company announcements and keep abreast of all related news.”
Singapore Airlines and British Airways were also forced to reroute certain flights, while Taiwan’s EVA Air was forced to turn round its Bangkok-London flight on Wednesday.
A number of Indian domestic airlines, including Jet Airways and Vistara, cancelled services in northern India on Wednesday.
The Foreign Office on Wednesday updated its travel advice for both India and Pakistan.
“There are heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir,” said the FCO.
“In response to these tensions, Pakistan has announced the closure of its airspace, effective until 11.59pm on February 28.
"There are no commercial flights operating to, from or within Pakistan at this time. You should check with your airline before travelling to the airport for flights to and from Pakistan.”
It adds in respect of India: “There may be disruption to air travel in Jammu and Kashmir and northern India at short notice.”