Indian carriers are increasingly seeking the government's nod to fly to the Gulf from western India over the Arabian Sea to avoid the circuitous route over Pakistan. Airlines put the security matter on table due to deteriorating India-Pakistan ties.
Air India, Jet Airways, IndiGo and SpiceJet operate flights to Gulf over Pakistan. "In the past few days, India has asked some non-scheduled aircraft flying from Pakistan to return and Pakistan may also retaliate,” said an official from the sector.
“Apart from these security reasons, there are some economic factors too driving the requests. Airlines save fuel and route navigation flight charges (RNFC) too. Our country can generate more RNFC,” said the airline official.
SpiceJet has sought direct access for its flights from Ahmedabad to the Gulf under the flexi-use of airspace. This allows the commercial aircraft to use the airspace reserved for air force and the navy.
"The proposed new route will also enable to reduce the carbon emissions, which is part of global environmental saving," SpiceJet said in the presentation. Airline would save rupees one lakh if it is allowed direct oceanic route instead of flying over Pakistan for its Ahmedabad-Dubai flight.
Defence authorities are yet to give clearance to the direct access as it involves flying over some sensitive areas. An aviation ministry source said, "We are getting lot of requests from airlines for direct point-to-point routes and flexi use of airspace for that. We are still thinking about it."