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Nepal-India agree to open three new air routes

By Our Reporter
A meeting of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and Airport Authority of India (AAI)  agreed to make the Kathmandu-Biratnagar and Kathmandu-Janakpur air routes two-way. Both the parties also agreed to make Janakpur-Patna air-route two-way.
Similarly, the meeting held on Saturday decided that the existing Kathmandu-Mahendranagar-New Delhi air-route would be made two-way for lower flight service operations.
Technical teams will conduct aviation safety evaluation in order to confirm the technical feasibility of the proposed air routes, Birendra Prasad Shrestha, Spokesperson of CAAN, said after the meeting.
It will open up new air entry points which will facilitate the flights to and from the Gautam Buddha International Airport, Bhairahawa, the proposed Second International Airport, Nijgadh and Pokhara International Airport and the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Kathmandu.
The agreement is taken as a milestone in strengthening regional-level airspace cooperation. Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation said that the new routes were instrumental for the new international airport operations and increasing number of tourist arrival.
Nepal is preparing for the Visit Nepal Year 2020 with an aim of welcoming 2 million tourists, for which it needs to increase the number of long haul flights which couldn’t be managed from the TIA which is already facing severe traffic congestion.
Currently, all aircraft flying to and from the only international airport in the country – TIA, are authorised to use the Simara route to enter Nepal.
The two sides have also agreed that there was a need of high-level technical cooperation agreement between the two neighbours in order to exchange cooperation on various technical subjects pertaining to Air Navigation Service.
Deputy Director General of Air Navigation Services Directorate at the CAAN Narendra Bahadur Thapa and Member of Air Navigation Services and Board Member of AAI Anil Kumar Dutta led the delegation of the respective countries.
Nepal has long been asking India to provide additional cross-border air routes, but the issue was formally raised during the visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.
The issue was included in the joint-statement issued by Prime Minister K P Oli and PM Modi during the former’s India visit in May this year.  The 2-day meeting was organised as mentioned in the statement.
Governments of Nepal and India, in 2016, had agreed to hold technical delegation-level meeting in order to make decision about the new cross-border air routes.

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