Flights to Nepal may resume soon

NEW DELHI, MAY 8. Indian Airlines is likely to resume its flights to Nepal in two weeks. An announcement is expected during the current visit of the Nepalese Foreign Minister, Mr C.P. Bastola.

The airline operates 19 flights to Kathmandu - daily flights each from Delhi and Calcutta and five flights from Varanasi- on Airbus 300/320 aircraft.

Flights between Indian and Nepal were suspended following the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight IC 814 in December last. India had sought foolproof security arrangements at the Tribhuvan international airport in Kathmandu. Recently, the Nepalese Civil Aviation authorities issued new security guidelines at the Tribhuvan airport for all airlines. This also includes a secondary X-ray machine surveillance with the cooperation of airline security agencies.

Much of the groundwork for resumption of flights had been done during the visit of a high-level Indian delegation led by Mr Sunil Arora, Joint Secretary, in-charge of security in the Civil Aviation Ministry. The three-day visit of the delegation which included officials from Indian Airlines, the Bureau of Aviation Security and the Ministry of External Affairs, had almost clinched the issue. Only, the Nepalese side was wary of the ladder-point checks by the Indian security as against their sovereignty. It seems now the issue has been amicably resolved.

Indian Airlines had given its security requirements to the Nepalese Civil Aviation authorities last month. A delegation had visited India also in the interim period and the glitches were finally removed to enable an announcement about resumption of flights during the visit of Mr Bastola.

IA officials heaved a sigh of relief at the prospect of resuming flights to Nepal as it is one of their profit making routes. The Nepalese side is also relieved as the lack of passengers/tourists from India had brought about a dip of about 25 per cent in tourist arrivals to Nepal.