The bilateral talks between China and Nepal are likely to be conducted in the month of July in the aim of developing aviation connectivity between both countries.
The program will mainly center on issues to permit Nepali airlines to operate flights to China as till now none of the airlines operate flights to the northern nation.
The issue will be discussed during President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s state visit to China.
Another objective to hold the meeting is to seek slots for Nepali airlines in the newly constructed airport in Beijing. One of the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) stated that though the meeting is mainly conducted for permitting Nepali Airlines to operate flights to China, the plan will be implemented only in July.
He also informed that although the government of China said that it will open air entry routes for Nepal to operate flights to various Chinese airports from Nepal by now but they haven’t provided a green signal yet.
According to Suresh Acharya, joint secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA), MoFA has not held any discussion with MoCTCA for the purpose.
However, MoFA and the Embassy of Nepal in China are aware of the issue. Previously, Luo Shugang, Minister of Culture visited Nepal at the end of November.
During the visit, he guaranteed to increase the flight frequencies between two countries and also assured to open-air entry routes for Nepali Airline companies to operate flights to the northern neighbor by this February.
Unfortunately, all those plans have not put into action yet. In February 2014, Nepal and China signed a revised bilateral Air Services Agreement (ASA). The agreement allowed 56 flights per week with any type of aircraft on a mutual basis. The agreement allowed each country to enhance the flight rate to 70 per week by 2016.
Chinese airlines were allowed to operate 14 flights a week according to the old ASA. Currently, Air China, China Southern, China Eastern, Sichuan Airlines and Tibet Airlines are operating regular flights to Nepal. Nepal signed MoU with UAE for the first time in 1999, the two countries had signed the revised MoUs in 2013 and 2015.
Similarly, Nepal signed ASAs with the Thai government in 1971 and 2004.
Pramod Nepal, undersecretary at Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) , the country is hoping to ink a revised agreement that would increase the number of flights between the two countries from 28 weekly flights at present. He also informed that the government has expected the revised agreement to be set in the near future.
Nepal has signed bilateral ASAs with 38 countries which allow operating 214 flights per day to and from Nepal to various destinations.