Airports Authority of India set to discuss open skies policy with Nepal counterpart
Airports Authority of India (AAI) has written to its Nepal counterpart Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) conveying its availability for the proposed India-Nepal joint technical committee meeting on air routes, which was earlier meant to be convened in the first week of February.
The letter was sent last week, said an AAI official on Wednesday. “Safety assessment on these routes is being carried out, and once they are complete, the technical team meeting between AAI and CAAN is requested. The tentative agenda maybe shared for preparation of the meeting. In all probability, the meeting may be convened during 29-30 March or 5-6 April 2017, or as acceptable to CAAN Nepal,” the letter read. India has proposed that the meeting be held in Kolkata.
The delay in India conveying its availability for the proposed meeting had earlier generated speculation in sections of the Nepali media. In the last meeting between representatives of the two countries held in New Delhi last December, India had proposed allowing overnight stay for in-flight security officer or ‘air marshals’.
The suggestion was viewed with suspicion in Nepal, with the country’s parliamentarians expressing their reservations. Quoting sources in Nepal’s tourism ministry and CAAN, Kathmandu Post, a daily, had reported earlier that India had not responded to two separate communications sent on January 11 and January 31, leaving officials there wondering if the delay was on account on the “air marshals” controversy.
Queries on the issue sent to CAAN spokesperson Birendra Prasad Shrestha and Nepal’s ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyaya on 14 February remained unanswered.
A senior AAI official, who did not want to be named, however, sought to dismiss theories on the delay in India’s response to Nepal’s communications asking for the date of the meeting. “There was no delay. One can’t have a proper meeting without doing the necessary homework. We have written to them last week. The meeting is very much on,” the official said.
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