EghtesadOnline: Flights between Kabul and New Delhi have to use the airspace of Iran after tensions erupted between India and Pakistan, after the latter blocked it.
The Afghan state-run Ariana Afghan Airlines is to launch its first flight via the new route, while the private Kam Air has already done that, Afghanistan Times reported.
Nader Omar, the head of Ariana Afghan Airlines, said the new route would take more time to reach New Delhi as the passenger planes have to first enter Iran's airspace and then cross the Indian Ocean to enter the Indian territory.
“We are doing our first flight via Iran space, but the time for flight is much more than the previous one. Our flights via Pakistan space took only one hour and half, but via Iran it takes around five hours,” Financial Tribune quoted Omar as saying.
Pakistan blocked its air route for Afghan flights after India's Air Force targeted areas inside Pakistan in retaliation to a suicide attack against an Indian Army convoy, which killed about 44 soldiers two weeks ago.
Tensions between the two nuclear armed neighbors are rising with Pakistan's Air Force downing an Indian fighter jet on Wednesday and arresting its pilot.
Pakistan has reportedly blocked its airspace for any flights to India. On Wednesday, a Kam Air passenger plane flying to New Delhi returned to Kabul after the Pakistani government refused to issue permission to use its airspace.
British Airways, Emirates, Gulf Air, Sri Lankan Airlines and Air Canada have suspended flights to Pakistan, while Singapore Airlines, Aeroflot and Fine Air, which use Pakistani airspace for flights, have been banned.
The cost of air tickets has doubled, according to Omar, who said it was previously $160 for the one-way ticket, but now it costs $300.
Tens of Afghans in India are waiting at New Delhi airport to fly to Kabul.