Himalaya all set to start opsHimalaya Airlines, a Nepal-China joint-venture company, is all set to launch its international operations with an Airbus A320 jetliner.
Himalaya Airlines, a Nepal-China joint-venture company, is all set to launch its international operations with an Airbus A320 jetliner.
The carrier’s first aircraft is scheduled to land at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on March 9. The airline, which has dry leased the jet, said another Airbus A319 will join its fleet soon.
A team from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal is currently in China to inspect the aircraft and complete necessary documentation.
“We will conduct test flights on a number of destinations before putting the aircraft into commercial operation,” said Vijay Shrestha, vice president—administration at Himalaya Airlines.
The airline said it would start commercial operations by March-end.
Shrestha said the company would conduct its flight on the Kathmandu-Delhi route, subject to approval by the Indian airport authority. “After Delhi, we will be expand to Doha, Kuala Lumpur, China and other sectors.”
Himalaya will be the sixth airline to operate on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector after Nepal Airlines, Jet Airways, Air India, Druk Air and IndiGo.
The entry of a new carrier is likely to result in a fare war as Himalaya plans to launch promotional offers on a number of routes.
“We don’t intend to go for a price war, but we will launch sales promotion to attract travellers, which all airlines do,” he said.
The airline has already opened advance booking on the Kathmandu-Doha sector through its general sales agent there.
It plans to launch the Kathmandu-Doha flights from April 12. Himalaya will be the second carrier to connect Doha from Nepal after Qatar Airways.
The airlines had previously planned to launch scheduled flights from October 2014, but the plan was deferred due to “some technical problems”. It was further delayed by the devastating April 25 earthquake.
The company plans to link various Asian and Middle East cities initially. It also plans to acquire 15 Airbus aircraft, including long-haul wide-body jets, to expand operations to Europe and other destinations in the next five years.
Initially, Himalaya had planned to operate Kathmandu-Lhasa flights to become the second international carrier linking directly to the administrative capital of Tibet after Air China, but the plan was changed given the A320 aircraft cannot land at Lhasa airport.
Himalayan Infrastructure Fund Aviation Investment and Yeti World Investment hold a 51 percent stake in the company, while Tibet Airlines owns 49 percent.
The company has a paid-up capital of $25 million. It is the biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) from China in Nepal’s aviation sector.
Recently, the airline signed a long-term service agreement with Sri Lankan Airline’s aviation integrated training academy, Sri Lankan Training, to receive A320 family simulator training for ab initio pilots and cabin crew.
Currently, 25 international and two Nepali airlines fly to 23 destinations in 13 countries from Nepal.
The country has signed air service agreements with 38 countries so far, the latest being New Zealand and Vietnam.
International passenger traffic through TIA dropped 6 percent to 2.66 million in the first 10 months of 2015, largely due to the April 25 earthquake and a shortage of aviation fuel resulting from India’s unofficial trade embargo against Nepal.