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Flight operations to north India resume after brief interruption; international flights diverted

NEW DELHI: Flight operations in all the eight airports across north India which were shut on Wednesday morning have resumed. The airports were closed for civilian air traffic in the morning, according to a statement by the Airports Authority of India.

A spokesperson of aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation said, "As of now, ops to these airports resumed." Airports at Srinagar, Jammu, Leh, Pathankot, Amritsar, Shimla, Kangra, Kullu Manali, Pithoragarh were among those closed amid escalating tensions between India and Pakistan.

The Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) said airports in Jammu, Srinagar and Leh in Jammu and Kashmir and Shimla, Kangra, and Kullu in Himachal Pradesh were closed for commercial operations and most of the flights to and from these airports are cancelled. A NOTAM is issued for a stipulated period for closure of airspace and can be revised anytime.

Though the notification cited 'technical reason' for the closure of the airspace, multiple sources confirmed the instruction has come from the Indian Air Force (IAF).

National carrier Air India, which uses Pakistan airspace for westbound flights, had issued a direction to use alternative routes. Some international flights that use Indian and Pakistan airspace for transit had also started avoiding the route.

Air India has decided to reroute its west-bound flights from Delhi. The airline has a number of flights to Europe from Delhi in the afternoon that fly over Pakistan and then enter Afghanistan on their western journey. These flights, sources said, are being rerouted and will take off once the new route is finalised.

The move came after Pakistani aircraft violated Indian air space in the Nowshera sector of Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district on Wednesday morning as Indian Air Force scrambled jets and pushed them back.

Officials said some of the flights towards Jammu, Leh and Srinagar airports were diverted to their origin stations.

Several airlines issued statements about the cancelling of operations.

"Due to airspace restrictions, flights to and from Amritsar, Srinagar, Chandigarh and Jammu are currently on hold," Vistara airlines said in a tweet.

Jet Airways said as per instructions from Delhi air traffic control regarding airport closure, flight operations to Amritsar, Srinagar, Jammu and Leh have been suspended until further notice.

IndiGo also announced that flights to and from Srinagar, Jammu, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Dehradun have been temporarily suspended.

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