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Pakistan closed its air space, forcing airlines into drastic reroutes

Key Points
  • Pakistan's escalating conflict with India this week disrupted commercial aviation after the country shut down its air space on Wednesday, forcing several international airlines to cancel or reroute their flights. 
  • When contacted by CNBC, a representative for the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority in Karachi denied an earlier report that the country was set to partially open its air space for commercial flights on Friday afternoon.
  • The representative pointed CNBC to the agency's website and added, "We're waiting for further orders." 
  • Pakistan is an important corridor for planes flying between Asia and Europe and the Middle East, meaning the closure of its air space affects hundreds of flights.

Pakistan's escalating conflict with India this week disrupted commercial aviation after the country shut down its air space on Wednesday, forcing several international airlines to cancel or reroute their flights.

When contacted by CNBC, a representative for the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority in Karachi declined to confirm a report that four airports are set to partially open on Friday and commercial flights will fully resume from Monday.

The representative pointed CNBC to the agency's website and added, "We're waiting for further orders." No further details were available on the agency's website.

This comes after Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan announced Thursday that the country will return a captured pilot "as a peace gesture" to India.

Pakistan is an important corridor for planes flying between Asia and Europe and the Middle East, meaning the closure of its air space affects hundreds of flights.

As of Friday afternoon during Asian hours, planes were flying around Pakistan, with a large number of them going over the Persian Gulf, according to flight tracking website Flightradar24.com.

A screenshot of Flightradar24's live tracker of flights showing how planes were diverting their routes to avoid the closed Pakistani air space.

Pakistan's air space consists of two so-called Flight Information Regions, Karachi and Lahore, which are different from political boundaries, Flightradar24 said in a post.

Major airlines posted updates about flight cancellation or flight rerouting on their websites.

Singapore Airlines said on Wednesday that its Europe-bound flights, which typically pass through Pakistani air space, from the city-state will stop either in Dubai or in Mumbai to refuel.

Thai Airways said on Thursday its flights from Bangkok to Europe resumed service after receiving permission from China to use its air space instead.

Emirates said all Dubai-Pakistan route flights were cancelled for Mar. 1.

Several Indian airlines had some flights on Wednesday but those services have resumed.

Tensions between New Delhi and Lahore flared after military planes from both sides carried out tit-for-tat air strikes this week in each other's territories while their troops traded fire along the de facto border in Kashmir. The escalation was triggered after terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for an attack in India-controlled Kashmir on Feb. 14 that killed more than 40 Indian security officers.

New Delhi and Islamabad also claimed to have brought down each other's military jets and Pakistan announced an Indian pilot was captured into its custody.

Reuters contributed to this report.