Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Stalled air service talks with India to be revived

The Tourism Ministry has decided to resume stalled air service talks with India and formed a seven-member panel to conduct negotiations.

A meeting has been scheduled for the third week of December in New Delhi. The main item on the agenda is opening new air routes.

The team will be led by the joint secretary of the Tourism Ministry and will include representatives from the Law and Foreign ministries and the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan), Tourism Ministry officials said. The delegation needs to be approved by the Cabinet.

The government has agreed to India’s proposal to schedule talks for the third week of December. Nepali officials had abruptly postponed a meeting previously planned to be held on October 20.

The three key items on the agenda are discussing entry-exit points over Janakpur and Nepalgunj airspaces, redefining the Kathmandu-Mahendranagar-Delhi (L626) route as a bi-directional route and developing Trans-Himalaya 2 airspace, officials said.

The Nepal government has requested India to provide three more air entry points in Janakpur, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj. According to ministry officials, they have dropped the idea of discussing a cross-border entry-exit point over Bhairahawa as India has reservations about the route due to defence issues.

“The cross-border airspace over Nepalgunj will be an alternative to Bhairahawa. And it will not make much difference in terms of distance.”

The proposal to review the airspace agreement was made with the aim of providing more cross-border entry and exit points for airlines that will be operating out of the international airports that are under construction in Bhairahawa and Pokhara and the proposed Second International Airport (SIA) in Nijgadh.
30/11/16 Sangam Prasain/The Kathmandu Post