Nepal-India air routes; AAI officials to visit Kathmandu on June 14

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-KATHMANDU

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

According to the source, the team comprising officials from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) led by Anil Kumar Dutta, member of Air Navigation Services and board member of the AAI will land Nepal for the talk on Air Routes. The both counter parties 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 had asked India formally to open the new cross-border air routes during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 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 the under construction airports i.e. Bhairahawa, Pokhara and Nijgadh.

“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,” 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.

Presently, all airlines connecting the sole international airport of Nepal, Tribhuvan International Airport only authorized to use the southern Simara route (SMR) as an entry point to Nepal, aircraft have to make their descent and climb in the Indian airspace following the STAR (Standard Terminal Arrival Route) and SID (Standard Instrument Departure Route), respectively which has been pretty much congested making the airspace paltry.

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