India, Afghanistan ink pact for resuming flights, tech issues

New Delhi, January 25: | Updated: Jan 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
India and Afghanistan have revived their aviation ties after over a decade with both the governments signing a memorandum of understanding for technical collaboration and to resume flights.

The MoU was signed by officials of the two countries in presence of the two civil aviation ministers, a day after the visiting Afghanistan delegation arrived here in an Ariana flight.

Two designated airlines of Afghanistan would be allowed to operate to Delhi and Amritsar, while two Indian carriers have the rights to operate to Kabul and Kandahar. The passenger-carrying capacity has been doubled from the pre-Taliban regime agreement of 40,000 to 80,000.

The final details regarding the operations are still to be worked out.

“It is a historic moment as we are reviving our age-old traditional relations with Afghanistan,” civil aviation minister Shahnawaz Hussain said. Regarding the commencement of flights by Indian carriers to Afghanistan, Mr Hussain said, “We have shortage of fleet at present. We will take a decision as soon as that is taken care of.” He said both Air India and Indian Airlines would be the designated carriers for India.

As part of the agreement, two Afghan carriers would be able to operate to Delhi and Amritsar carrying a total of 1,600 seats a week. The flights to Delhi would carry not more than 1,000 seats a week and the rest will have to be carried to Amritsar.

Similarly, the Indian carriers, which would operate to Kabul and Kandahar carrying the same capacity, would not carry more than 1,000 seats to Kabul and 600 would be for Kandahar.

The previous limitation on cargo for 5,000 tonne has been completely lifted by airlines of both the countries, Mr Hussain said, adding that there would be 10 flights a week now, compared with five in the previous agreement.

A security clause, based on the model of the International civil aviation organisation (ICAO), has been incorporated in the MoU.

Stating that they would give their flight schedule to their Indian counterparts in the coming weeks, Afghan minister Abdullah Rahman said the designated airlines of both nations would work out arrangements of technical collaboration for training of operational and technical staff of his ministry and Ariana Afghan airlines.

Mr Rahman said the Afghan government had also sought Indian assistance for reconstruction of airports and other facilities there.