Nepal-India technical committee meet in June third week
Kathmandu, June 1
A meeting of Nepal-India joint technical team has been scheduled here for the third week of June to discuss the possibilities of opening new air routes between the two countries.
Following the decision made by executive heads of the two countries on May 11 during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal to finalise the technical study of opening new air entry routes via different points, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) had requested Airport Authority of India (AAI) for a technical meeting on this issue.
Though the actual date of the meeting has not been finalised, AAI has said that it is sending its delegation to Nepal in the third week of June, according to Dipak Baral, director of Air Traffic Management at CAAN, who is also the coordinator of Nepal’s technical committee for the meeting.
Baral informed that CAAN will propose AAI to give air entry routes from Nepalgunj and Janakpur at the meeting.
“The meeting will discuss the pros and cons of allowing air routes for Nepal-bound international flights via Nepalgunj and Janakpur on both Nepal and India,” informed Baral.
CAAN will seek both entry and exit facility through the aforementioned proposed air routes.
Presently, the only authorised air entry point to Nepal from the south is through Simara, which is pretty much congested.
The issue regarding opening of the new cross-border air routes has been raised time and again since the last five years. Though Indian Prime Minister Modi had committed to hold discussions on this issue during his previous visit to Nepal in 2014, no substantial progress had been made on this front until recently.
Meanwhile, CAAN officials are optimistic that the technical committee meeting between the two countries will come up with a clear picture on necessity and prospects of opening new air routes, thereby facilitating both the governments to take the necessary decisions.
“The meeting will only outline the feasibility of opening new cross-border air routes and present the report to the respective governments,” said Baral.
Nepal is seeking new air route facility via Nepalgunj and Janakpur with India with the view of connecting the upcoming international airports in Bhairahawa, Pokhara and Nijgadh.
However, Indian authorities had earlier expressed concerns related to opening air route via Nepalgunj, though the Janakpur route is feasible, citing that the Indian army has set up an air defence base camp on the Indian side close to Nepalgunj.
The Simara air entry route has suffered massive air traffic congestions in the recent years, with the increase in air travel as it is the only gateway for international airlines to come Nepal.