A Joint meeting between the two technical team of neighboring country Nepal-India has been scheduled here for the third week of June to discuss the possibilities of opening new air routes.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) have requested Airport Authority of India (AAI) for a technical meeting for the finalization of the technical study of opening new air entry routes via different points, during the visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal dated May 11.
According to the Air Traffic Management Director at CAA of Nepal, Mr. Dipak Baral, said that the AAI will be sending its delegation to Nepal by the third week of June. Though the actual date of the meeting has not been finalized Mr. Baral is the coordinator of Nepal’s technical committee for the meeting. Baral also added that CAAN will propose AAI for granting new 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, all airlines connecting Kathmandu are 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 is pretty much congested.
Information officer of CAAN Mr. Trilochan Paudel said that Nepal government had been requesting India to add air routes and entry points multiple times over the years. He said that if the first meeting is held, it would at least make the next meetings and negotiation process easier.
Nepal has urged to provide three new entry air routes through Janakpur, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj and Mahendranagar with the view to connect three new additional international airports i.e. Nijgadh, Bhairawa and Pokhara. However, Nepal has only one air route for its international flights.
CAA of Nepal 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.