Thousands of air travellers in Singapore and across the globe continued to face flight cancellations and delays for the second straight day yesterday, as airlines avoided flying over Pakistan and parts of India amid tensions between the two countries.
Budget carrier Scoot - which cancelled its Singapore-Amritsar return service on Wednesday, following the closure of the airport in north India which has since resumed operations - mounted a relief flight that left Changi Airport at 5pm yesterday.
Cancelled flights are leaving passengers scrambling for alternatives, while those rerouted are adding anything from 10 minutes to a few extra hours to the total flight time.
To operate the longer flights, carriers, including Singapore Airlines (SIA), are uplifting more fuel and, on some routes, deploying more pilots to ensure that they do not breach maximum flying hours, The Straits Times has learnt.
Industry watchers noted that the airspace over the affected areas is the usual corridor for flights between South-east Asia and Europe.
The closure has affected all SIA flights to and from Singapore, and a total of about 220 flights a day on airlines that operate between South-east Asia and Europe.
Thai Airways announced on Wednesday that all its European routes departing near midnight that day through early yesterday were cancelled due to the sudden closure of Pakistani airspace.
The cancellation affected flights between Bangkok and London, Munich, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Vienna, Stockholm, Zurich, Copenhagen and Oslo, the airline said.
Thai Airways said it was waiting for airspace authorisation to operate flights on an alternative route that does not fly over Pakistan. Flights resumed yesterday afternoon after it received permission to fly through Chinese airspace.
Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority said it would keep its airspace shut until at least 1.00pm today local time, or 4pm Singapore time.
Several airlines that fly to Pakistan as well as parts of north India have also cancelled their services.
The carriers include Air Canada, Emirates and Qatar Airways.