The second flight from Afghanistan under a new air corridor with India, created to help the two countries to boost trade without depending on land routes through Pakistan, took off from Kandahar with 40 tons of fruits and vegetables on Saturday.
President Ashraf Ghani inaugurated the direct air cargo link and the first flight carried 60 tons of hing (asafetida) from Kabul to New Delhi on June 19.
Subsequently, a flight from Delhi to Kabul transported 100 tons of goods, mainly pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
The flight from Kandahar carried 10 tons of fruits and 30 tons of vegetables and medicinal plants. India’s consul general in Kandahar, NP Singh, and the governor of the Afghan province were present at the airport when the flight took off.
The idea of creating the air freight corridor was put forward by Ghani during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September last year. The two leaders reached an agreement on the air cargo service when they met in Amritsar in December.
The air corridor aims to enhance the annual volume of trade between the two countries, which currently stands at around $700 million.
Landlocked Afghanistan depends on neighbouring countries for all its imports and exports. Even before relations between Kabul and Islamabad became strained over accusations of harbouring militants, Pakistan has stymied Afghanistan’s efforts to trade with India.
After Afghanistan and Pakistan signed a transit trade agreement in 2010, Islamabad allowed Afghan trucks to carry goods up to the Indian border but barred them from ferrying any Indian goods through Pakistani territory.
The Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) said the medicinal plants carried on the first flight were valued at $11 million.
There are plans for up to five flights a week from Kabul and Kandahar to New Delhi.
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