Laos, India to launch direct flights
Laos and India are willing to launch direct flights as part of initiatives to boost cultural exchanges and bilateral trade between the two countries in the near future.
The opening of direct flights aims to enhance people to people contacts between the two Asian neighbours.
Lao News Agency recently quoted India's ambassador to Laos, Mr Ravi Shankar Aisola as saying the direct flights between India and Laos were in the final stages of approval and very soon there would be flights between the two nations without the need to stop in a third country.
Addressing a joint press conference along with his Lao counterpart here, Mr Aisola said that the process was set out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the landlocked country recently.
“Routes and other details are being worked out,” Mr Aisola said, adding that Indian companies can take advantage of the various incentives offered by the Lao government like export promotion zones to set up small-scale manufacturing units in the country.
He also said that Laos, being in the category of a Least Developed Country, gets a preferential tariff policy from various other countries and Indian businesses stand to benefit greatly if they export materials from the country.
While the Lao Ambassador to India Mr Southan Sakonhninhom said that Indian businesses could use Laos as a gateway to gain access to Asean markets. He also urged Indian companies to increase investment in areas of power, tourism and agriculture in the country.
The Ambassador identified agriculture, defence, ICT, culture, education, health, mining, and trade and investment promotion as priority areas of cooperation between the two countries that would give further impetus to bilateral relations.
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Laos, a number of new initiatives have been taken to promote people-to-people contacts, training and scholarship opportunities, and expansion of private sector participation in trade and investment, as well as in health and education.
Landlocked Laos is surrounded on all sides, by China to the north, Vietnam to the east, Thailand to the west, Myanmar to the northwest and Cambodia to the south.
India's investment in Laos is around US$150 million, much less than China's US$6 billion. The main investment would be in the areas of power, tourism and agriculture.
According to the latest official data from Laos' Tourism Development Department, 4,547 Indian tourists travelled to Laos in 2014, a decrease of 0.09 percent from 4,551 in 2013.
Lao Airlines has agreements with Thai Airways, Vietnam Airlines, Bangkok Airways, China Eastern Airlines, Qantas Airways, Silk Air, China Airlines, Korean Airlines and Eva Airways, along with interline agreements with Hahn Air, Aeroflot Russian Airlines, and Heli Air Monaco.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update June 23, 2016)