The Indian Air Force was closely monitoring a Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777 jetliner which crossed into the Indian airspace last week after it failed to land at Lahore airport because of heavy rain in the region.
On May 4, the Pakistani International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-248, being operated on a 16-year-old Boeing 777, had taken off from Muscat for Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport when it had to abort its landing because of poor weather conditions.
Sources said the Delhi Air Traffic Controller had been alerted to the conditions that the jetliner was experiencing, and that it had processed a request for the Boeing to fly a detour given the weather in the area.
“The incident of the PIA aircraft flying in Indian airspace due to bad weather was coordinated between Lahore and Delhi area control, with information being shared with the Air Force Movement Liaison Unit,”sources said.
“The Indian Air Force was in the picture and was monitoring the situation.”
A tracker on Flight Radar 24, a commercially available app which monitors the movement of aircraft worldwide, indicates that the PIA jetliner flew North of the Bhikhiwind town in Punjab at 8.42 pm on May 4 shortly after entering Indian airspace.
It then flew over the city of Tarn Taran before turning Southwest to eventually re-enter Pakistan airspace where it diverted to Multan and landed there.
Sources tell NDTV that the IAF did not scramble any fighter jets during the incident.
Pakistani International Airlines does have permission to operate designated flights over Indian airspace, including flights to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Several Indian airlines operate daily flights to the West across Pakistani airspace.
The incident involving PIA flight PK-248 and the request to detour because of poor weather in the region, is not unusual.
Despite the proximity of Lahore and the India-Pakistan border, air traffic controllers always prioritise the safe operations of flights, like in this case alerting the Delhi Air Traffic Controller of an unplanned route diversion by the PIA Boeing 777.