NAC to fly to Osaka, Seoul, Riyadh after new jets arriveThe Civil Aviation Ministry has designated three international long-haul routes for Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) to serve after it receives its two wide-body aircraft on order in the next six months.
The Civil Aviation Ministry has designated three international long-haul routes for Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) to serve after it receives its two wide-body aircraft on order in the next six months.
A minister-level decision on Sunday okayed NAC to operate flights to Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. The national flag carrier has been designated four weekly flights each on the Kathmandu-Osaka and Kathmandu-Seoul sectors, and daily flights on the Kathmandu-Riyadh sector, ministry officials said.
“After the go-ahead from the ministry, NAC’s proposal to establish air links with these countries will be dispatched through diplomatic channels,” said Mukesh Dangol, a ministry official. “Accordingly, NAC has to apply for operating authorization at the civil aviation ministries or authorities of the respective countries.” NAC had planned to fly to the Japanese capital of Tokyo, but this did not happen as the air service agreement (ASA) between Nepal and Japan has designated Kansai International Airport in Osaka.
In 1993, Nepal and Japan signed the ASA allocating 400 weekly seats. The national flag carrier used to fly to Osaka via Shanghai until 2008 when it was forced to suspend the route due to lack of aircraft.
A Nepal Air Traffic Analysis conducted by Airbus in 2015 has forecast a traffic growth of 77 percent in five years from nearly 48,000 one-way travellers from Japan to Nepal. Narita International Airport and Kansai International Airport account for 68 percent of the traffic from Japan to Nepal.
Likewise, NAC has considered South Korea as another important country due to increased Nepali traffic movement. Nepal and South Korea signed an ASA in September 2004.
Meanwhile, the corporation has invited bids to provide ground handling services at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Nepal and Saudi Arabia signed an ASA in October 2015.
Earlier, NAC had announced resuming its London service after acquiring two wide-body jets. However, it has not initiated the process as Nepali airlines are still under an operating ban within the European Union.
According to the Airbus report, Europe is a potential market for Nepal in the future. There were 163,058 one-way travellers between Nepal and Europe in 2014. Passenger traffic between Nepal and Europe is expected to grow robustly over the next 20 years. Currently, traffic to Europe is evenly split between airports in Turkey, India and the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Nepal has proposed signing an ASA with Australia as NAC wants to spread its wings Down Under after acquiring new long-range aircraft.
There were 41,000 one-way travellers between Australia and Nepal in 2014. Nepal Airlines has also been eying the Chinese market. It has already applied for landing permission at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, which is the third busiest airport in China in terms of passenger traffic.
During its heyday, NAC used to fly to Amsterdam, Colombo, Dhaka, Frankfurt, Karachi, London, Osaka, Shanghai and Singapore besides five Indian cities—Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Patna. It presently connects Kathmandu with Doha, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Dubai and three cities in India—Delhi and Bangalore and Mumbai.