India’s national air carrier Air India on Thursday (15 August) became the first Indian Airline to operate commercial flights over the North Pole, reports Times of India.
According to the report, the Delhi-San Francisco flight of Air India, which usually flies over the Atlantic or the Pacific ocean, flew over zero degree north on India’s Independence Day.
Amid the ongoing tension with Pakistan, Air India’s operations department had already planned two flight paths for the polar route debut.
“We were asked to be prepared for a Pakistan airspace closure on August 15. Had they shut down their airspace to Indian flights, we still would have flown the polar route, though with a different routing that took the aircraft over Strait of Hormuz and then northbound for the pole,” an Air India source was quoted in the report as saying.
As per the report, the Delhi-San Francisco flight AI-173 took off at 4am on 15 August with about 243 passengers on board. As there were no restrictions imposed for Indian flights over Pakistani airspace, it flew over Pakistan, then Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and overflew the North Pole by 12.27am to cross over to the other side of the Planet Earth.
The new flight route is expected to reduce the flight duration by around one-and-a-half hours and fuel savings would be in the range of 2,000 to 7,000 kilograms per flight.