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India, Pakistan talks on air links continue

The two sides are discussing ways to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers.

india Updated: Mar 07, 2006 15:23 IST

India and Pakistan on Tuesday continued their talks, reviewing the bilateral air services agreement in a bid to further air connectivity between the two countries.

In the two-day talks that began on Monday, officials from the two sides are discussing ways to increase commercial cooperation and reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers.

"The talks were actually scheduled for two days, but if need be it might even get extended by another day," senior officials in the ministry of civil aviation said.

The six-member Pakistani delegation is headed by additional secretary of defence Muhammad Ashraf Chaudhry while the Indian side is led by Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Satinder Singh.

Currently, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flies to Delhi and Mumbai and Indian Airlines to Karachi and Lahore.

Officials from the two countries will also discuss the possibility of setting up air links between more cities and increasing the number of airlines, including private operators.

"There are a host of issues associated with this which will also be sorted out," said a DGCA official.

"Actually under the existing conditions, not many are interested in operating in this sector. Certain issues have to be addressed to encourage traffic on these routes," the official said.

While the two sides are expected to discuss issuance of visa to the passengers of both the countries to ensure economic viability to operators, they will also exchange views on broadening trade cooperation and removing tariff and non-tariff barriers, a senior government official said.

During the inconclusive meeting last year, Pakistan surprised India by asking for permission to operate PIA flights to Kochi, Hyderabad and Chennai in addition to Delhi and Mumbai.

Pakistan has offered Islamabad and Peshawar as additional routes for Indian Airlines and Indian private operators.

India, while promising to consider Pakistan's request for three more destinations on Indian routes, did not show much interest in the new destinations proposed by Islamabad due to viability factor.

The two countries resumed their air services in early 2004 after a two-year suspension.

First Published: Mar 07, 2006 15:16 IST