H9 commencing its flights to Ngari Gunsa Airport; benefit to Kailash Pilgrims, negative impact on Helicopter operators

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-ANN: KATHMANDU

Lord Shiva’s abode Mount Kailash and Mansarovar Lake can now be accessed by air as Himalaya Airlines planned to commence scheduled flight at a fourth high- altitude airport in the world, Tibet near the two holy places.

Himalaya Airlines, the private international airline of Nepal has recently added a brand new A319-115 to its fleet on March 02, 2020, with the configuration of 8 Business class & 120 Economy class seats. The airline has plans to add two A319-115 series in its fleet by 2021 to fly Trans-Himalayan ranges. The Airlines is now focusing to strengthen its connectivity with China; spreading its wings first to Nanchang & Shanghai & next to Ngari Gunsa Airport (Ali) & Lhasa.

The new agreement paves the way for the Nepalese carriers to enter China. The Chinese authorities agreed to expedite the issuance of permits for Nepal Airlines to fly to Guangzhou and for Himalaya Airlines to operate to Beijing Daxing Int’l. China also agreed to allow Nepalese airlines to use Ali Ngari Gunsa Airport, a dual-use military and civil facility located in the southwest of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region near the Indian border, as a technical stop during sightseeing flights over the Himalayas.

The airline has already filled an application for the flight at Ngari Gunsa Airport and is seeking an approval to operate flight at High Altitude Airport from the Civil Aviation Administration of China. After the approval, the airline will first conduct its test landing at the airport before commencing its commercial flight.

According to the Source, the Nepalese Embassy in Beijing said in a statement that the countries had agreed to expand the number of weekly return services between them to 84, including 21 frequencies reserved for the future Siddharthanagar Gautam Buddha Airport and Pokhara New Airport.

Lord Shiva’s abode Mount Kailash and Mansarovar lake, revered by Hindus across the globe, can now be accessed by air as Himalaya Airlines is planned to fly at a high- altitude airport in Tibet near the two holy places. An Airbus 319 is planned to land at Gunsa Airport in Ngari Prefecture of the Tibetan Autonomous Province by next month, marking the first Nepalese Airline to connect Mount Kailash and Mansarovar Lake.

Ngari Gunsa Airport, also known as Ali Airport, is the fourth highest-altitude airport in the world. The dual-purpose military and civil airport serve the city of Shiquanhe in Ngari Prefecture, south-west of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region near the Indian border. The airport is situated at an elevation of 4,274m. The airport is expected to handle 120,000 passengers on a daily basis by 2020. It has a runway measuring 4,500m long.

Construction works on the airport commenced in May 2007 and commissioning took place in July 2010. The first commercial flight to the airport was that of an A319 jetliner operated by Air China. The total investment made on the airport’s development was CNY1.65bn ($241.22m).

The airport at Gunsa may receive a lot of Indian tourists in future after the inaugural flight of Himalaya Airlines.

Presently, thousands of Indian tourists travel to Mount Kailash and Mansarovar Lake through Humla, Darchula, and Kerung for Mansarover Darshan yearly. Many tourists are unable to enter Hilsa as Mansarover is distant from these entry points and there are no other options besides air transport. After the new flight route to Ali through Kathmandu would make a client ease for traveling in a short period of time and will also fascinate pilgrims traveling to Mount Kailash and Mansarovar Lake Darshan avoiding all the hassles faced.

Helicopter operators including Simrik Air, Fishtail Air, Manang Air, Kailash Helicopter, and Altitude Air are pleasantly serving the tourists from Simikot to Hilsa but it is anticipated that once the Himalaya Airline will commence its direct flight to Ali the significant business of Helicopter operator might cut off due to decreasing travelers. Previously, the helicopter operators used to have a tough time carrying enormous pilgrims traveling to Kailash Mansarovar.

Simikot airport is located at an elevation of 9,246 ft (2,818 m) above mean sea level. The airport has Single asphalt runway of length of 549 meters on an elevation of 9,747 feet aligned to 0100 degrees and 280 degrees serving as one of the country’s busiest domestic Airport these days.

Simikot Airport recorded the highest ever flight movement on June 9, 2017, which was 268 due to the increased flow of tourists for Mount Kailash and Mansarovar Lake. The 268 flights consisted of 135 takeoffs and 133 landings out of which 32 flights.

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