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India-Pakistan tensions ground thousands of air travellers

LONDON: Thousands of air travellers international were left stranded on Thursday after Pakistan closed its airspace in line with escalating tensions with India.

Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) stated it would keep airspace shut till 11.59 pm native time, disrupting major routes between Europe and South East Asia.

Thai Airways has cancelled nearly 30 flights, affecting 5,000 passengers. "All THAI flights from Bangkok to Europe departing near midnight of 27 FEB through early 28 FEB and from Europe to Bangkok departing on 27 FEB have been cancelled due to Pakistan airspace closure," the airline wrote on its Twitter web page.

The resolution affected its services to London, Munich, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Vienna, Stockholm, Zurich, Copenhagen and Oslo, but the airline stated at round 0530 GMT that it was resuming customary operations to Europe.

Singapore Airlines' was additionally pressured to direct flights to Europe to re-fuel, while a flight to Frankfurt was cancelled.

The crisis between nuclear-armed neighbours Pakistan and India has raised fears of an all-out struggle.

Pakistan stated it would release a captured Indian pilot on Friday, in an overture against New Delhi.

India earlier stated its forces had additionally shot down a Pakistani fighter jet as Pakistan abruptly closed its airspace early Wednesday.

The CAA stated on Thursday morning that it had briefly restored its airspace, with 3 flights departing from Pakistan as of 1000 GMT. They were an Emirates service from Peshawar to Dubai, an Air Arabia flight from Peshawar to Ras Al Khaimah within the UAE and a Qatar Airways flight from Peshawar to Doha.

Emirates was earlier pressured to cancel 10 return flights to Pakistan while Qatar Airways pulled flights to Peshawar, Faisalabad, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Multan.

Saudi Airlines additionally suspended all flights to Pakistan "until further notice". In Russia, two flights from Moscow to Vietnam and St. Petersburg to Thailand had to flip back to Russia while a Bangkok-bound flight had to land at Uzbekistan.

Air Canada suspended flights to Mumbai and New Delhi, diverting an India-bound flight back to Toronto, while seven services from Istanbul to Pakistan were cancelled.

The closure affected Thai Airways flights to Scandinavia and Pakistani International Airlines flights to Copenhagen, with native television station TV2 television reporting that 25 Danish students were stuck at Bangkok airport.

"The atmosphere is not very good right now. We try to keep up the morale, but it's difficult," stated pupil Sara Bjerregaard Larsen, including that many were in tears.

Thai Airways struggled to seek out new routes to Europe with Iran "rejecting" a request to travel over its airspace, in keeping with a spokesperson for the provider.

But a few hours later China gave "permission to Thai Airways ... to bypass Pakistani airspace," in keeping with Pratana Patanasiri, Thai Airways Vice President, allowing Thursday evening's flights to Europe to resume. But frustration fixed Thursday at Bangkok's major airport at the surprising delays.

"We have waited here for 11 or 12 hours already," stated Gerda Heinzel 55, a German tourist returning to Munich after a holiday in Phuket. "We have not been given anything to eat, anywhere to stay. There are no German-speaking staff to help us."

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