Five new int’l carriers set to enter Nepali skies
KATHMANDU, APR 08 - At least five new international airlines plan to connect Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) by this year.
Emirates, the largest Middle East airline, plans operate one flight per week with its wide-body aircraft on the Kathmandu sector from October, travel agencies said. The airline, ranked among the top 10 carriers worldwide in terms of passenger kilometres in 2012, is holding discussions with a Nepali travel agency to appoint a general sales agent.
Myanmar’s national flag bearer, Myanmar Airways International, plans to start Nepal operations by September.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan), Malaysia-based low cost carrier Malindo Air has applied to connect Nepal. Malindo is a joint-venture between Malaysia-based National Aerospace and Defence Industries and Indonesia-based Lion Air.
“Dhaka-based Nova Air has also been inquiring about necessary procedures with the Caan to fly into Nepal,” said Subash Jha, manager at Caan’s flight schedule and permission section.
Bhutan’s first private carrier, Tashi Air, is also set to enter the Nepali skies and the government is all set to revise the air service agreement (ASA) with Bhutan.
TIA statistics show 29 international carriers flew 3.14 million passengers in and out of TIA last year. As new international carriers seek to enter Nepal, those already operating here are also increasing their frequency to cater to the increased travel demand. Carriers from China have already increased their flight frequency following a recent revision of the ASA. Currently, three Chinese airlines—Air China, China Eastern and China Southern—operate scheduled flights to Nepal. TIA statistics show traveller movement on Chinese carriers jumped by a significant 28 percent to 187,570 in 2013. The three Chinese airlines received 40,950 more fliers in span of one year.
According to Caan, Air China has been allowed to operate seven flights per week (four flights on Kathmandu-Chengdu and three on Kathmandu-Lhasa-Chengdu sectors). China Southern and China Eastern each have been given seven flights per week on Kathmandu-Guangzhou and Kathmandu-Kunming sectors, respectively. Meanwhile, China Southern has been considering increasing flight frequency to double daily on the Kathmandu-Guangzhou sector, Caan said, adding China’s Sichuan Airlines has also expressed interest to connect Nepal in the near future.
On Feb 24, Nepal and China signed a revised bilateral ASA, permitting the operation of 56 flights per week with any type of aircraft on a reciprocal basis. Under the old ASA, Chinese airlines were allowed to operate 14 flights weekly. Before the ASA, the three Chinese carriers were issued temporary operating permits, allowing them to operate an additional 14 flights per week.
Malaysia-based Malaysia Airlines has also applied for 21 flights per week from the current 14 weekly flights. Malaysia Airlines, which entered Nepal in September 2012, flew 96,999 travellers in 2013.
Dubai-based budget carrier Fly Dubai is also considering increasing its flight frequency to double daily from the existing eight flights per week. “Increased Nepali travellers, particularly migrant workers, to Malaysia and Middle East sectors has encouraged international carriers to raise frequency,” said Shyam Raj Thapaliya, managing director of Osho World Travel Nepal. “The number of tourists is also growing (except for the European countries).”
Cabinet nod to revise ASA
The Cabinet has given the go-ahead to the ministry to revise the ASA with Bhutan following its request as its first private airline Tashi Air (also known as Bhutan Airlines) plans to connect Nepal. Nepal and Bhutan signed the ASA in February 2004, allowing Bhutan’s national flag carrier-Druk Air-to operate seven flights per week between Paro and Kathmandu. The agreement allows only “single designation”, and the government plans to provide multiple designation and increasing flight frequency between the two countries. After Bhutan, Nepal plans to revise the ASAs with Qatar and Pakistan and sign new ASAs with South Africa and Australia. “Signing an ASA with Australia has become a need as there has been a dramatic rise in Nepali traveller movement to Australia while tourist arrivals to Nepal from Australia have also increased,” said Pramod Nepal, under-secretary at the ministry. “Besides, trade with Australia has also increased in recent years.”
Posted on: 2014-04-08 08:48