Himalaya Airlines cleared to operate flights to BeijingThe private Nepali carrier plans to operate three weekly services to Beijing Daxing International Airport from September.
Himalaya Airlines is poised to begin the first direct service between Kathmandu and Beijing in late October, an initiative analysts say could give a major boost to the upcoming Visit Nepal 2020 campaign when authorities hope to attract at least half a million visitors from northern neighbour China.
The private Nepali carrier plans to operate three weekly flights to Beijing Daxing International Airport. According to Himalaya Airlines vice-president of administration Vijay Shrestha, China has granted operating authorisation, and preparations are being made to conduct the maiden flight to the Chinese capital.
The airline is in the process of acquiring an Airbus A319 narrow-body jet that can carry up to 160 passengers for the Beijing flight.
Meanwhile, national flag carrier Nepal Airlines is waiting for clearance from Chinese authorities to fly to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.
In July, Nepal and China signed a revised bilateral air services agreement which allows 98 weekly flights between the two countries on a reciprocal basis, an increase from the existing 70 flights per week.
Currently, five Chinese carriers—Air China, China Southern, China Eastern, Sichuan Airlines and Tibet Airlines—operate flights to Nepal. However, no Nepali carrier currently flies to China.
The national flag carrier used to operate a service to the Japanese city of Osaka via Shanghai until 2008 under fifth freedom rights. In 2015, Nepal Airlines applied for landing permission at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport which is still pending.
In Beijing, the Chinese side had agreed to expedite the process of issuing operating authorisation to Nepal Airlines and Himalayan Airlines as per their applications for flights between Kathmandu and Guangzhou and Beijing respectively.
“Chinese authorities have confirmed that they will visit Nepal in October to conduct an internal audit of Nepal Airlines, a procedure before allowing the carrier to operate services to China,” said Ganesh Bahadur Chand, spokesperson for Nepal Airlines.
“We had requested them to come in August, but due to their busy schedule, they have scheduled their visit for October,” he said. “We are well prepared for the audit. Once, the audit clears us, we will be connecting Kathmandu with Guangzhou, one of the busiest airports in the world.”
Shrestha of Himalaya Airlines said they were currently planning to operate Kathmandu-Lhasa and Kathmandu-Beijing services by October. The move is aimed at bringing more Chinese tourists during the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign, he added.
Nepal wants to bring at least 500,000 Chinese tourists in 2020. Arrivals from China saw the strongest growth of 46.8 percent to 153,602 individuals in 2018, largely due to increased flight frequencies between the two countries.
Shree Airlines takes delivery of Dash 8-400
Shree Airlines has taken delivery of its first Dash 8-400 turboprop aircraft which it will operate on domestic flights. The private Nepali carrier has also been granted permission to operate international flights.
The turboprop manufactured by De Havilland Aircraft of Canada is the first of two aircraft Shree Airlines plans to induct into its fleet. The airline said the second Dash 8-400 was expected to arrive after two weeks. It currently operates two CRJ 200s and two CRJ 700s on domestic routes.
Shree Airlines has recently been okayed to conduct flights to Bangladesh and India. Corporate manager Anil Manandhar said they would fly to Delhi and other Indian cities initially. The jets will be used for cross-border flights while the Dash 8-400 will serve domestic routes, he said.
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