Special ladder helped India, Nepal reach
an agreement on resumption of flights
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
A unique looking flight was a crucial factor in the resumption of Indian Airlines flights between India and Nepal, which were suspended in the wake last December's hijack.
According to sources, the resumption of flights to Kathmandu from Thursday was possible only after Indian Airlines authorities got a ladder fitted with a special platform flown to Tribhuvan International Airport in Nepal.
Indian security personnel would frisk passengers on this platform. Thus the Nepal authorities get to save their face, because technically the Indian security personnel would not be frisking passengers on Nepali soil.
The ladder, which an Indian Airlines source termed "a unique one in the aviation scene," was made in New Delhi and was flown to Kathmandu. The ladder has been fitted with a special platform halfway, where Indian Airlines personnel would be stationed. "On this platform each passenger entering the IA flight would be frisked," sources said.
The resumption of IA flights to Nepal comes after almost six months and several rounds of
negotiations, and a massive loss to the flourishing tourism industry in both India and Nepal.
The Indian side started negotiations by demanding that they be allowed to station security staff at the airport to check every passenger boarding Indian Airlines flights.
India also demanded that it be allowed to station X-ray machines at the airport to check baggage. However, Nepal claimed that the security at the airport has been tightened and so there was no need to station Indian security personnel. And, they said it was principally and politically not acceptable to allow foreign security agencies in their land.
After several rounds of negotiations, the two sides agreed that a special ladder with a platform suspended in the middle would be alright.
There is no confirmation, however, if the Nepali authorities agreed to provide Indian security personnel access to X-ray machines at the airport.
The resumption of flights is a great respite for the travel industry. For the past six months, the industry suffered the worst slump in its history with the cancellation of flights from New
Delhi, Calcutta and Varanasi.
Daily flights resumed from Delhi to Kathmandu from Thursday with an IC 813, carrying 210 people, landing at the Tribhuvan airport.
The Calcutta-Kathmandu flight, five days a week, is expected to resume on Friday. However, Varanasi-Kathmandu flights are not likely to begin soon due to a shortage of aircraft.
IA flights to Kathmandu resume on Thursday
IA resumes flights to Kathmandu
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