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Nepal Airlines to discuss Kathmandu-Narita flights with Japanese delegation

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Mar 25, 2019-

Nepal Airlines Corporation is holding talks with the visiting delegation of Narita International Airport Corporation of Japan on Monday regarding the plan to operate non-stop flights between Kathmandu and Narita. Narita is a city on the eastern outskirts of Tokyo, Japan.

A three-member team of Narita International Airport Corporation, led by Koji Takahashi, vice president, aviation sales and marketing department of the airport, arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday.

Narita International Airport Corporation manages the Narita airport facilities.

“As we have applied for a slot at Narita International Airport, we will hold discussions on the facilities and other areas of commercial operation,” said Madan Kharel, executive chairman of Nepal Airlines Corporation.

The corporation had last week applied for the slot and has been approved by the airport. “However, we are still waiting to receive landing permission from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, the aviation regulator of Japan.”

Initially, after procuring two long-range Airbus A330 jets, the corporation had begun preparations to operate flights to Kansai International Airport in Osaka. But it was not allowed to serve other airports in Japan under the old air service agreement.

On June 18, Nepal and Japan revised the air service agreement, increasing the number of flights seven-fold from twice weekly to 14 weekly flights with any type of aircraft on a reciprocal basis.

The revised agreement then allowed Nepal Airlines to fly to Narita International Airport and the corporation started preparations accordingly.

However, on the backdrop of Nepal being included on the “air safety list” of the European Commission, the corporation feared that it would take a long time to begin operations at Narita airport, which would have been the carrier’s maiden landing.

Subsequently, it decided to resume flights to Kansai International Airport, Osaka, dropping its earlier plan to directly connect Kathmandu with Narita International Airport.

Now, the corporation plans to operate flights to both airports. “We are hopeful that the Japan’s aviation regulator will issue the landing permit at the Kansai International Airport this week,” Kharel told the Post. “Even if the regulator issues the landing permission by March, it will take at least a month for preparations,” he said. “We have revised Japan’s flight plan to April-end.”

The corporation had postponed the re-launch of its Japan service from November-end last year to February due to incomplete preparations.

However, the February plan did not materialise after Japan’s civil aviation agency decided to conduct safety checks of the corporation before allowing it to resume service to Kansai International Airport, Osaka. The corporation was then forced to postpone the inauguration from February to March-end.   

According to Kharel, if they get permission to operate flights to both airports, it would be two weekly flights at each airport. “If we go to one airport, we can operate three weekly flights.”

Nepal Airlines launched its services to Japan in 1994, flying to Osaka via Shanghai, China. In 2007, it was forced to suspend the route due to lack of aircraft. The national flag carrier plans to resume its Japan service after more than a decade.

Published: 25-03-2019 09:29

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