India, Afghanistan establish direct air freight corridor
New Delhi: The first flight from Kabul to Delhi, establishing air freight corridor between the two countries, landed here on Monday with the dedicated air cargo link aimed to help boost bilateral trade, hampered by Pakistan that disallows Indian goods along the road route.
The flight, which carried 60 tonnes of cargo, was flagged off in Kabul by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the presence of several of his ministerial colleagues and Indian Ambassador Manpreet Vohra.
It was received here by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the presence of Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar. Afghan Ambassador Shaida Abdali was also present.
A similar cargo flight from Delhi to Kabul had earlier carried 100 tonnes of cargo (mainly pharmaceuticals, water purifiers, medical equipments) on June 18.
“The arrival of the cargo flight from Kabul to Delhi marked the inauguration of the dedicated Air Freight Corridor,” said an External Affairs Ministry release.
The connectivity established through the Air Freight Corridor will provide Afghanistan greater access to markets in India, and will allow Afghan businessmen to leverage India’s economic growth and trade networks for its benefit, it said. It would enable Afghan farmers quick and direct access to the Indian markets for their perishable produce.
The decision to establish the Air Freight Corridor was taken in the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ghani in September 2016 during the latter’s visit here in September 2016.
India has been closely working with Afghanistan to create alternate and reliable access routes for the landlocked country and also hopes to extend air cargo flights to other cities.
“These routes and corridors are aimed at providing sea, land and air access route for Afghanistan to regional and global markets in South Asia and beyond,” the release said.