Pakistan blind cricketers stranded in SL due to closure of Lahore airport

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The Pakistan blind cricket team, which is on a tour of Sri Lanka, has been stranded in the island nation due to the closure of Lahore airport in the wake of escalating tension with India.

“They have been forced to stay longer and also have to pay additional expenditure,” Chaminda Pushpakumara, the manager of the local blind cricket team said. “They had already incurred personal expenditure to travel to Sri Lanka,” Pushpakumara added.

The official has sought the Sri Lankan government’s intervention to provide the Pakistani team with assistance. After border tensions broke out between India and Pakistan last week, the Sri Lankan Airlines canceled all its flights to Lahore.

The Pakistan government then closed its airspace for domestic and international flights because of the situation, which forced the 24-member Pakistan team to postpone its departure.

The Pakistan blind cricket team whitewashed Sri Lanka 3-0 in the ODI series.

Amid tension over India’s air strike on terrorist hideouts in its territory, Pakistan on Friday extended the closure of its airspace until March 4 with operations allowed at few international airports under restricted airspace. In a fresh NOTM (Notice to Airmen), Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said, “Flight operations only to/from Karachi international, Peshawar international, Quetta international and Islamabad international airports with restricted entry/exit as follows will be available.”

Earlier on February 27, a day after Indian Air Force’s strike on JeM terrorists inside its territory, Pakistan had closed its airspace for commercial flights and indefinitely suspended flight operations at many of its major airports.

The closure of Pakistan’s airspace in response to escalating tensions with India disrupted major routes between Europe and South East Asia and left thousands of air travelers worldwide stranded.

Various airlines such as Air India, Jet Airways, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines Wednesday announced they were rerouting their flights as Pakistan closed its airspace.

Thai Airways has canceled nearly 30 flights, affecting 5,000 passengers. “All THAI flights from Bangkok to Europe departing near midnight of 27 FEB through early 28 FEB and from Europe to Bangkok departing on 27 FEB have been canceled due to Pakistan airspace closure,” the airline wrote on its Twitter page.

The decision affected its services to London, Munich, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Vienna, Stockholm.