Nepal-India talks on air routes next week

Kathmandu, June 7 (IANS) The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) on Thursday said that an Indian delegation will arrive here on June 14 to discuss cross-border airspace issues that have been pending for the last five years.

The team comprising officials from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will be led by Anil Kumar Dutta, member of Air Navigation Services and board member of the AAI, reports the Kathmandu Post.

The two sides will discuss three key cross-border routes that Nepal has sought from India: Janakpur in the eastern, Nepalgunj in the mid-western and Mahendranagar in the far western regions, CAAN said.

Nepal asked India to formally open the new cross-border air routes during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kathmandu in 2014 and it was also on the agenda during his May 11 visit.

The proposed bi-directional or incoming and outgoing air routes will facilitate the operation of international flights from Bhairahawa, Pokhara and Nijgadh airports.

“We don’t know about the mandate that the Indian delegation has been entrusted with by its government, but we are prepared to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) if the discussions yield a positive outcome,” the Kathmandu Post quoted a top CAAN official as saying.

“If the MoU is signed during this meeting, it will open the door for both sides to conduct a safety assessment of the proposed routes soon.”

After a safety assessment has been completed by the technical teams of both sides, a report has to be published in an aeronautical information publication (AIP) before the new air routes can become operational.

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