The government of India has directed the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to help Nepal to build new and upgrade existing hangars at the only international airport, Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. It has also considered allowing Nepalese airlines on new routes into India.
The initiate is being carried for purpose of countering China’s growing influence on the roof of the world. “AAI has started work on it and sought a detailed project report from the Nepalese side,” an aviation ministry official told ET on condition of anonymity.
“We have been asked to urgently clear these requests and the ministry working on them.” The request was sent through the Indian embassy in Nepal and included request to allow a Nepalese carrier, Buddha Air, to be provided new routes to India, which is also being discussed. AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra did not comment on the story. If this goes through, it will not be the first time India will be asking AAI to counter China.
Earlier, it had asked AAI to buy controlling stake in Sri Lanka’s Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport. The Sri Lankan government said it has asked AAI to submit its business plan for operating the Mattala airport.
This will also not be the first time that AAI will like to enter the airport sector in Nepal. An earlier attempt by AAI to bid for an airport project near Kathmandu did not fructify due to questions on the viability of the project. China’s growing influence in Nepal has become a concern for the Indian government. Nepal recently rebuffed India by not sending its soldiers for the first Bimstec (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) anti-terror military exercise being held in Pune from September 10 to 16.
The aviation ministry official said the government may be looking at agreeing to Nepal’s request but the Nepalese government has not yet approved the Indian government’s proposal to allow Indian carriers to share the feed with a carrier from another country. “Our request remains stuck with Nepal,” said the official. Nepal had also not agreed on a request by India to sign open skies that would have allowed an unlimited number of flights to six top destinations in India.