On Thursday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told a joint session of parliament that Islamabad would release the captured pilot as a "gesture of peace". This news brought a wave relief to Indians as everyone wanted their nation's hero back.
The handover came against the backdrop of blistering cross-border attacks across the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir that continued for a fourth straight day, even as the two nuclear-armed neighbors sought to defuse their most serious confrontation in two decades.
Tensions escalated rapidly following a suicide auto bombing that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Indian-controlled Kashmir on February 14.
Images then circulated of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's capture, which were condemned for what appeared to be a physical attack at the hands of residents in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, but also praised because of the actions of the Pakistani soldiers who intervened to create a barrier.
A spokeswoman said Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta airports would begin some flights on Friday with the remainder opening next week.
President Trump said that he had "reasonably attractive news" that the tensions between India and Pakistan are likely to lessen a day after the nuclear-armed neighbors engaged in their first aerial combat in almost 50 years.
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.
The Kashmir region is claimed in full by both India and Pakistan since both states gained independence from British Empire in 1947.
His return is a goodwill gesture from Pakistan aimed to de-escalate rising tensions with India.
Both sides accuse the other of breaching a ceasefire and no sign yet of any de-escalation of hostilities. They have fought three wars, two directly over the disputed region. He will be taken to New Delhi for a debriefing and a medical check-up. The country's top civil and military leadership declared the violation of airspace by Indian fighter jets "uncalled for aggression" and decided that the country would respond at a "time and place of its choosing".
The first war broke out over Kashmir after partition divided the subcontinent into India and Pakistan.
The militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, which is based in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack.