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Air Canada suspends flights to India due to closure of Pakistani airspace

Last Updated Feb 27, 2019 at 12:48 pm EDT

The tail of the newly revealed Air Canada Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft is seen at a hangar at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, February 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Air Canada says it has temporarily suspended flights to India due to the closure of Pakistani airspace.

One flight en route to Delhi from Toronto was turned back over the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday night and returned to Toronto Wednesday, while a second flight from Vancouver to Delhi that was scheduled to depart Tuesday night was also been cancelled, Air Canada confirms.

“Air Canada‚Äôs flight from Toronto to Mumbai is planned to operate tonight as it takes a different routing, and we are evaluating the routing options for both Toronto-Delhi and Vancouver-Delhi flights scheduled to operate later tonight,” Air Canada said in a release.

“We have put in place a goodwill policy for affected customers and are monitoring the situation in order to resume service once the situation normalizes and we determine it is safe to do so.”

Air Canada and Jet Airways operate 18 flights weekly to India from Toronto Pearson.

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority says it has shut its airspace to all commercial flights as tensions with neighbouring India escalate further over the disputed region of Kashmir.

The agency says in a statement that the airspace was closed on Wednesday, without elaborating or indicating when flights might resume.

Pakistan’s military said Wednesday it shot down two Indian warplanes in the disputed region of Kashmir and captured a pilot, raising tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals to a level unseen in the last two decades.

India acknowledged one of its air force planes was “lost” in skirmishes with Pakistan and that its pilot was “missing in action” on a chaotic day, which also saw mortar shells fired by Indian troops from across the frontier dividing the two sectors of Kashmir kill six civilians and wound several others. A helicopter crash in the region also killed six Indian air force officials and a civilian on the ground.

Pakistan responded by shutting down its civilian airspace as Prime Minister Imran Khan called for negotiations with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, to ensure “better sense can prevail.”

“Let’s sit together to talk to find a solution,” Khan said. There was no immediate reaction from Modi.

Global Affairs Canada has issued a travel advisory for India, warning anyone to exercise a high degree of caution due to a continuing threat of terrorist attacks throughout the country. They are also asking people to avoid all non-essential travel to Pakistan due to the unpredictable security situation.