Nepal, Oman to up flight frequency
Dec 31, 2014-Nepal and Oman have agreed to boost the airline flight frequency to 21 flights weekly from the present seven. The revised air service agreement (ASA) between the two countries also permits them to further increase the frequency to 28 flights per week from January 1, 2016.
Oman Air currently operates daily flights between Kathmandu and the Omani capital Muscat. No Nepali carrier serves the route.
As per the agreement signed by Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Suresh Man Shrestha and Acting Director General of Civil Aviation Regularization of Oman Anwar bin Abdullah Al Raisi on Monday in Muscat, the two countries can also operate any number of cargo flights without any restrictions. Moreover, the agreement has opened the door for airlines to directly link Salalah, one of the major cities in Oman. Nepalis residing in Salalah now have to travel 1,000 km north to Muscat to catch the flight to Kathmandu.
The two sides also agreed to carry out code sharing for mutual benefit. The deal allows the national carriers of both the countries to share common codes to fly passengers. “The agreement will benefit Nepali migrant workers in Oman,” said Bharat Regmi, officiating Nepali ambassador to Oman. Nearly 17,000 Nepalis are working in Oman.
The demand for an increase in the number of flights was mainly proposed by Oman Air as the current air seat demand has outstripped supply due to increased Nepali migrant worker departures to the Arab country. According to DB Chettri, the president of the Non-Resident Nepali Association in Oman, there are Nepalis working in almost every house in Salalah. “Direct connectivity with Salalah will be a big relief for them.” Besides, the increased frequency will also boost tourist inflow to Nepal, he added.
Inbound and outbound traveller movement on Oman Air jumped 12 percent to 94,238 persons last year, Tourism Ministry statistics show. The carrier brought 7,905 tourists to Nepal last year, mainly from the UK and Germany. More than 5,000 Nepalis travel to Oman annually for employment. Nepal and Oman first signed an ASA on Dec 2, 1997. Subsequently on September 2, 2010, Oman Air launched services between Muscat and Kathmandu with four flights weekly. The frequency was increased to seven flights weekly in 2011.
Nepal has revised ASAs with three countries in the last one and a half years.
In April 2013, Nepal and the UAE signed an enhanced ASA permitting the operation of 70 flights per week with any type of aircraft on a reciprocal basis.
Likewise, the ASA with China was revised in February permitting the operation of 56 flights weekly, up from 14 flights weekly. The ASA with Bhutan was revised in May increasing the number of flights between the two countries three-fold to 21 per week with any type of aircraft. The ministry has planned to sign new ASAs with Australia, Iceland, Cambodia and Vietnam and revise the ASAs with Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Pakistan. Nepal has signed bilateral air service agreements with 36 countries.
Published: 31-12-2014 07:00