Nepali team to talk on air route with India

Politics

Kathmandu, 8 October : A technical delegation from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) is scheduled to visit the Indian capital of New Delhi on Thursday to continue the air routes talks started last June.

Last June, India agreed to open four new air entry points to Nepal in the eastern and western parts of the country to facilitate movement of international traffic, but two ‘vital entry points’ remained on hold due to technical issues. The four routes that India agreed to make bidirectional or two-way are Kathmandu-Biratnagar-Dhaka, Kathmandu-Janakpur-Kolkata and Kathmandu-Janakpur-Patna in the eastern part of Nepal, and Kathmandu-Mahendranagar-Delhi (L626) in the west.

Last June, the visiting Indian delegation did not discuss these two routes as they were purely a ‘defence issue’. The Indian side in the past expressed reservations over providing entry over Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj as a defence establishment is located in Gorakhpur where fighter jet exercises are held regularly. “We don’t think it will be easy to get these routes considering the early indication from the Indian side,” the official said.

The international airport in Pokhara, which is expected to be completed by mid-2021, will face a similar problem if the new cross-border air routes do not come into operation soon. The ministry’s documents show that Pokhara-bound flights from western Nepal will have to fly an additional 185 km if the new cross-border air routes are not opened.

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