Himalaya Airlines, Nepal based private carrier has requested government to review bilateral air service agreement (ASA) with China citing disparity in the number of Nepali and Chinese airlines running flights between the two countries. The airlines showed interest in northern region after being refused to get permission in landing in India.
Currently, five Chinese carriers—Air China, China Southern, China Eastern, Sichuan Airlines and Tibet Airlines operate flights to Nepal but no Nepali carrier serves China. Although Nepal Airlines (RA, Kathmandu) was designated to serve Guangzhou in 2015, it was never able to launch flights given a lack of access to the Chinese airfield.
As it stands, Himalaya Airlines, which is backed by Chinese capital, has sought to serve each of Shanghai Pudong, Shenzhen, and Wuhan from Kathmandu as they are top 15 Chinese main gateways to outside of the world. For the Shanghai route, the Tourism Ministry designated seven weekly flights for Himalaya Airlines.
The two governments can sign a memorandum of understanding and grant flight permission to Himalaya to boost Chinese arrivals from new markets, ministry officials said. “The ASA can be revised later.”
Rabindra Adhikari, newly appointed tourism minister has aimed to increase tourists’ arrival by 1.5 million by 2020 and plans to conduct aggressive promotional plans in neighboring countries to bring more tourists. Vijay Shrestha, vice-president, administration, of Himalaya Airlines told that to achieve the aim set by new tourism minister; the airlines have come up with this aim and plan to connect all 4 destinations if government gives permission.
Officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) suspect that Nepali carriers have been kept out of Chinese airports due to the significant safety concern (SSC) tag given to Nepal by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao) in its audit report in 2013 which is recently removed.
Several of China’s major airports, including Shanghai Pudong and Beijing Capital, are currently restricted by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) from adding any new routes given their poor on-time dispatch rates. As such, slots at either airfield are highly prized commodities.
In March 2016, Himalaya Airlines had announced that it would be conducting its maiden commercial flight on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector after receiving its first aircraft. Two years have passed but Indian authorities have not given their permission. The carrier currently operates 32 flights weekly on the Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Doha and Dammam sectors with its three Airbus A320 jets.