The PK 682 from Lahore to Multan had taken off for its destination at 5:10pm, but was told to go back to Lahore and landed at the Allama Iqbal International Airport (AIIA). However, the flight was given a go ahead after about two hours and it finally departed for Multan at 6:58pm.
The PK652 from Hyderabad to Lahore had to land at Sukkur. It resumed its journey later and landed at the AIIA at 8:45pm. According to sources, the flights were re-directed in the air corridor after the armed forces radar spotted an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) east of the city, The News has learnt.
According to sources in armed forces, PAF fighters were scrambled to the area where the UAV was spotted to counter the probable threat. All flights to, from and through the air corridor were diverted or rescheduled.
Sources revealed that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was directed by the armed forces to shut down the Multan air corridor over a radius of 70 nautical miles as the forces radar had picked up a UAV east of Multan. However, no further details could be acquired vis-a-vis any encounter between the detected UAV and PAF fighters.
The UAV was spotted east of Multan, which indicates a high probability of its flying in from the eastern borders of the country. However, the probability of it flying in from the west and being spotted once it had reached the east-side cannot be completely ruled out. Armed forces, however, denied the presence of the UAV and attributed the air corridor’s closure to the PAF exercise.
When contacted, ISPR Director General Athar Abbas said that he did not have any information about the UAV or scrambling of the PAF jets. However, sources within the CAA said that PAF carried out similar exercises at the Rafiqui Airbase, Shorkot, Sargodha and Jacobabad, yet complete suspension of all air operations was not practiced there.