Supply chain disruptions ensue following India-Pakistan airspace dispute

Flights at Lahore Airport (LHE) and a string of smaller regional Pakistan-based airports are in operation again today after being suspended for about three days, starting last Wednesday, due to elevated military tensions between India and Pakistan that caused government officials to close Pakistan’s airspace.

Trans-Eurasian cargo carriers that stop in Pakistan – including Air China, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and Pakistan International Airlines– were directly affected, according to a statement from DHL. Airlines. The carriers were all forced to stop or reroute regularly scheduled flights over the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, which added hours to normal flight times.

Supply chain disruptions have not been confined to Pakistan, however, with a slew of flight cancellations in Northern India and Afghanistan following an Indian airstrike on Pakistani-held territory on Wednesday, which led to the downing of two Indian Air Force jets and a Pakistani jet on Thursday.

Thai Airways cancelled all flights to airports in India, Pakistan and Europe, including Brussels, Paris and London, on Feb. 27 and 28, “bypassing India and Pakistan by using China’s airspace.” Singapore Airlines gave another example – re-routing a London-bound flight that was forced to change course to avoid flying over Pakistan, Bloomberg reported.

The airspace closure incident was a result of another tussle in a long history of tension between the two countries over the disputed border region of Kashmir. The Indian airstrike – the first to be launched against  its westward neighbor since 1971 – was in retaliation for a Feb. 14 suicide bomb attack that killed 40 Indian soldiers.

Tensions cooled on Thursday when Pakistan released a captured Indian pilot, which will allow operations to resume as normal. However, the domino effect inflicted on trans-Eurasian air cargo operations has likely left some kinks in the supply chain that will be left to logistics community to iron out.

Those interested in learning more about traffic trends in the Asia-Pacific region are invited to join us at Cargo Facts Asia 2019, to be held 15-17 April at the Langham Shanghai. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com. 

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