India, Britain Fail To Reach Pact On Air Traffic Rights

New Delhi, Jan 29: | Updated: Jan 30 2004, 05:30am hrs
India and Britain on Thursday failed to reach an agreement on enhancing bilateral air traffic rights, but the civil aviation officials of the two countries agreed to meet again in the second week of March.

While the officials were tight-lipped over the reasons behind the failure to arrive at a conclusion at the negotiations which went on for three days, informed sources said one of the prime reasons for the delay was the British civil aviation authoritys failure to provide prime time slots at Londons Heathrow airport for Air-India planes to land and take off.

The officials merely said the talks were held in a cordial atmosphere and the two sides decided to go back to the respective governments to narrow down the areas of differences.

Maintaining that the major sticking point in the parleys was a prime time slot at Heathrow, the sources said the British side had instead offered such landing slots at the Gatwick airport which, however, was not acceptable to the Indian side. Discussions were also held on the British demand for allowing additional flights into Indian airports of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. However, no final decision could be reached on this issue also, the sources said.