Air Canada suspends service to India as tensions rise with Pakistan

The airline has implemented a ‘goodwill policy’ for affected customers

Air Canada said it has suspended service to India due the closure of Pakistani airspace as tensions mount between the two nuclear powers.

A flight en route to Delhi Tuesday night turned back over the Atlantic Ocean and returned to Toronto Wednesday, the airline said.

A second Air Canada flight from Vancouver to Delhi slated for takeoff Tuesday night was also cancelled, said spokeswoman Isabelle Arthur.

The airline has implemented a “goodwill policy” for affected customers and is monitoring the situation in order to resume service once it “normalizes,” she said.

Air Canada operates daily service from Toronto and Vancouver to Delhi and four times weekly between Toronto and Mumbai. It has no aircraft on the ground in India and all flights from India to Canada have returned as scheduled, Arthur said.

Pakistan said Wednesday it had shot down two Indian warplanes and captured two pilots in the disputed region of Kashmir, raising tensions on the Asian subcontinent to a level unseen this century.

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.

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.

The aircraft went down Wednesday morning in Kashmir, a mountainous region claimed by both India and Pakistan since almost immediately after their creation in 1947. One of the downed planes crashed in Pakistan’s part of Kashmir while the other went down in an Indian-controlled section of the Himalayan region, Pakistan’s army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said.

The Canadian Press

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