Times of India
16 Feb 2008,
NEW DELHI: Four years after the peace process started between India and Pakistan, the two countries are set to draw a direct line in the air between New Delhi and Islamabad.
In a clear sign that despite Pakistan’s unrest, relations with India are steadily on the rise, private air carriers will be able to operate between the two countries.
This was decided between civil aviation officials on both sides at a meeting in Rawalpindi on Friday. Two new destinations – Chennai and Islamabad – have been added to the list, while three air carriers, mainly private, will be allowed to fly these sectors. Each side can designate three airlines to operate on the agreed routes.
Moreover, flights between India and Pakistan have now increased from 12 a week to 28 a week.
“Both sides expressed satisfaction that the new arrangement would further the objective of facilitating people to people contact, business and trade activities,” the two countries said in a statement.
Until now, if you were flying from Delhi to Islamabad, you had to go through Lahore. But no longer. A MoU to this effect was signed at the end of two-day talks between senior civil aviation officials of the two countries.
The initiative to increase flights has been part of the composite dialogue, but more importantly, it was part of the theme of connectivity that India sold at last year’s SAARC summit.