India to discuss aviation assistance with Nepal tohelp build three airports

India to discuss aviation assistance with Nepal tohelp build three airports

India is scrambling to offer assistance to Nepal in developing its aviation sector, an attempt to counter China’s initiative to help the Himalayan country build three international airports.

The government has invited Nepalese officials to discuss issues including reviving an old plan of the state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) to build and operate airports in the neighbouring country, officials told.

“Authorities from Nepal are coming to India soon to discuss issue related to AAI,” said a senior aviation ministry official, who did not want to be identified. Nepal had surprised Indian officials at the International Civil Aviation Negotiations (ICAN), held in the first week of December 2016, by informing them that China is providing soft loans and expertise for three international airports in places including Pokhara and Janakpur, which shares its border with Bihar in India.

Another official said that the issues to be discussed with Nepal include Air Traffic Control along with the AAI’s old plan. While the AAI renders ATC services to Nepal, it had earlier planned to build and operate Nepal’s second airport in Kathmandu.

At the bilateral meeting held between the two nations during ICAN, India had offered open skies to Nepal, something that Nepal declined. At the same meeting, Sri Lanka agreed to open skies with India, allowing its carriers to add as many flights as they sought from six key cities in India, including four metros.


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