India Afghanistan Air

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Afghanistan President Dr. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan June 9, 2017. India and Afghanistan have established an air freight corridor between the two countries to boost trade, which is impeded by Pakistan’s refusal to allow Indian goods to be transported on its roads. (IANS/PIB photo)

NEW DELHI — The first flight from Kabul to Delhi via a newly-established air freight corridor between India and Afghanistan landed in New Delhi June 19. The dedicated air cargo route aims to boost bilateral trade, which is hampered by Pakistan’s prohibition of the transport of Indian goods along its roads.

The flight, which carried 60 tons 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 in Delhi 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. 

On June 18, a similar cargo flight from Delhi to Kabul carried 100 tons of cargo, primarily pharmaceuticals, water purifiers and medical equipment.

"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 air freight corridor will provide Afghanistan greater access to Indian markets and will allow Afghan businessmen to leverage India's economic growth and trade networks for its benefit, the release also said. The corridor will also provide Afghan farmers quick and direct access to Indian markets for their perishable produce. 

The decision to establish the air freight corridor was made in a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ghani in September 2016 during the latter's visit to New Delhi in September 2016.

India has been closely working with Afghanistan to create alternate and reliable access routes for the landlocked country, and 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.

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