Prime Minister Narendra Modi today welcomed the first Air Freight Corridor flight from Kabul. PM took to Twitter and said, “Happy to welcome the first Air Freight Corridor flight from Kabul.” The first air freight service between Afghanistan and India kicked was off from Afghanistan by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani today and it landed in India on Monday. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her deputy MJ Akbar received the plane in New Delhi. The inauguration of the first Afghanistan-India air corridor ceremony was held at the Kabul International Airport. The significance is that it will now be a direct route that bypasses Pakistan. The initiative has been taken to improve commerce between the two countries. Ghani said that the aim of the route is to create more opportunities and make Afghanistan an exporter country, reported the Associated Press. Ashraf Ghani also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the air corridor between the two countries and said that India is a big market for Afghan goods. The first air cargo service between India and Afghanistan was launched today by Ariana Afghan Airlines.
Happy to welcome the first Air Freight Corridor flight from Kabul. pic.twitter.com/9mVobkpopv
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 19, 2017
Afghan agricultural products for the first time will head to India on cargo planes, Sediqullah Mujadedi, Ghani’s adviser said. Mujadedi says the first India-bound flight included 60 tons of natural plants; a second flight will follow, with 40 tons of dry fruits to be sent form Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province. The service will bypass the land crossing between the two countries via Pakistan. This development has come as a significant one, as Pakistan does not allow use of its land for trade between Afghanistan and India.
On Friday, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said, that the concept was discussed between the two countries during the visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last year. PTI reported that the project was also envisaged to enable traders to export Afghan products to the vast Indian market by air with minimum costs while circumventing the obstacles faced in the land route. Gopal Baglay also said that the frequency of the flights under the project would be determined depending on commercial viability as it was a business venture which is supported greatly by the two governments.
The volume of transaction between Afghanistan and India, according to the official, is some $500 million at present. The next cargo flight with 40 tonnes of goods will take off from the southern Kandahar province to India next week.