Nepal | October 22, 2020

Nepal, India discuss opening new air routes

Himalayan News Service
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The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) and Indian Embassy held a meeting today regarding new air entry points.

Nepal and India have been discussing about new entry routes for aircraft to enter Nepal via third country.

However, no fixed decision has been taken so far. Regarding this issue, Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai again held a discussion with Indian Ambassador Vinay Mohan Kwatra.

Ambassador of India to Nepal, Vinay Mohan Kwatra meets Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai at the Ministry, in Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, on Friday, October 9, 2020. Photo: RSS

According to the ministry’s secretariat, Minister Bhattarai spoke with Ambassador Kwatra about air route via Bhairahawa checkpoint.

The minister also requested Ambassador Kwatra to finalise permitting aircraft to enter Nepal via Nepalgunj and Mahendranagar routes.

On June 17, 2018 India had provided new air entry routes for Nepal over Biratnagar and Janakpur. With the permission, international flights coming to Nepal can take the eastern air entry routes over Biratnagar and Janakpur.

Before that, international flights coming to Nepal were permitted to come via air entry route over Simara only.

However, no decision has been taken yet about entry routes from western Nepal.

Back then, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) had said that the Indian authority will soon give decision on these two routes — Nepalgunj and Mahendranagar.

However, the decision regarding opening of the aforementioned routes is still pending.

These two air routes are considered to be crucial for under-construction Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA), Pokhara International Airport and the Second International Airport (SIA) in Nijgadh.

Meanwhile, the meeting held today also discussed about reopening flights in Nepal-India sector that has been halted since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even though the Nepal government has allowed resumption of flights from some destinations, Indian flights are still restricted.

Thus, the Indian side has proposed Nepal to reopen the flights.

MoCTCA has already submitted a proposal to the Cabinet on reopening Nepal-India flights starting from October 17. A final decision is yet to be taken.

Similarly, both the Indian and Nepali sides also discussed about developing Pashupatinath, Lumbini and Janakpur as religious and cultural destinations while both the parties have decided to bring Ramayan circuit into operation as soon as possible.

Responding to Minister Bhattarai, Ambassador Kwatra expressed commitment to develop and promote religious and cultural destinations of the country.

He also assured the minister that India will always play a vital role in promoting Nepali tourism destinations and uplifting Nepali tourism industry.

A version of this article appears in print on October 10, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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