Air pacts signed with New Zealand, Vietnam

- Sangam Prasain, Kathmandu

Oct 26, 2015-

Nepal has signed new air service agreements (ASA) with New Zealand and Vietnam, and amended and discussed the existing pacts with six other countries, bringing the number of countries with which such deals have been signed to 38.

The aviation accords, which were concluded with eight countries at one go, allow flexibility on the routes, capacity, frequency and type of aircraft on any type of service, passenger or cargo. The ASAs were signed and amended during the ICAO Air Services Negotiation Event held in Antalya, Turkey last week to boost trade, travel and the airline business.

The agreement signed with New Zealand provides for 14 weekly flights with any type of aircraft and third-party code share policy on a reciprocal basis.

“New Zealand had requested an ‘open sky policy’, but due to our liberal sky policy, we were unable to fulfil its request,” said Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane, joint secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.  “New Zealand will not conduct direct flights to Nepal immediately, but it plans to link Nepal using a code share flight in the near future,” he added.

Likewise, Nepal and Vietnam signed an ASA at a separate event which permits 14 weekly flights between the two countries. “Vietnamese officials have indicated that they plan to operate Vietnam-Bangkok-Kathmandu flights under a code share agreement with Nepal Airlines,” said Lamichhane. He added that Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, would be a huge draw for tourists from Vietnam.

The government also plans to sign a new ASA with Cambodia next year. “We held discussions with Cambodian officials, and they are interested in connecting Nepal,” Lamichhane said.

Meanwhile, Nepal has amended the ASAs with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UAE. Besides, discussions were held with Turkey over the operation and frequency to Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).

Under the revised ASA, flights between Nepal and Pakistan have been increased fourfold. The first revision of the aviation pact in two decades allows Pakistan to operate 28 weekly flights to any point in Nepal.  The revised ASA has accepted a multiple designation system under which no restrictions will be placed on the carriers of the two countries to fly to each other’s destinations. Nepal and Pakistan had signed the ASA in December 1995 providing for 800 seats per week.

Likewise, the government has amended the ASA with Saudi Arabia boosting the frequency between the two countries to 28 weekly flights from two weekly flights. Nepal had signed the ASA with Saudi Arabia in October 1999 permitting flights to Riyadh only.

The revised ASA has accepted a multiple designation system and Saudi Arabia has adopted an open sky policy at its international airport in Dammam, which means there will be no restriction on the frequency.

According to Lamichhane, Nepal Airlines has been planning to conduct direct flights to Saudi Arabia soon while airlines from there have also shown interest in connecting Nepal. But Nepal was unable to fulfil the UAE’s request to provide another 35 weekly flights on top of the 70 weekly flights granted by the recently amended ASA. “Due to heavy congestion and the existing infrastructure at TIA, we were unable to increase the flight frequency,” said Lamichhane, adding that the topic would be discussed at a later date.

As part of the effort to promote the new airports in Bhairahawa and Pokhara, the government has allowed UAE carriers to operate 70 flights per week to each airport. Nepal had signed the ASA with UAE in December 2007. It was revised on April 16, 2013, permitting the operation of 70 flights per week with any type of aircraft. Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines has asked Nepal to change its flight slot to 4 am. “The request by Turkish Airlines will require us to keep TIA open around the clock, so further discussions will be held on the matter,” Lamichhane said.

Published: 26-10-2015 09:19

User's Feedback

Click here for your comments

Comment via Facebook

Don't have facebook account? Use this form to comment