Nepal proposes ASA with Aus

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Feb 2, 2017-

Nepal has proposed signing a bilateral air service agreement (ASA) with Australia as the national flag carrier Nepal Airlines wants to spread its wings Down Under after acquiring new long-range aircraft.

The Tourism Ministry has requested the Australian government for an ASA allowing 14 weekly flights with any type of aircraft.

Third country code-share agreement, fifth freedom traffic rights, multiple designations, free pricing and unrestricted cargo are other items proposed to be inserted in the air accord. 

“We are yet to receive confirmation from the Australian government,” said Pramod Nepal, under-secretary at the ministry. 

“Negotiations will begin after we receive it.” He added that they had made a request to the Australian government as Nepal Airlines was interested in connecting the destination.   

According to a Nepal Air Traffic Analysis report prepared by Airbus in 2015, Australia is an emerging market. There were 41,000 one-way travellers between Australia and Nepal in 2014. The preferred route between Nepal and Australia is through Malaysia. 

“The number of Nepali students flying to Australia and Australian tourists coming to Nepal has been rising. This makes the route viable,” said Under-Secretary Nepal. 

North America, Japan and the UK are the emerging markets for Nepal besides Australia for the next 20 years, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Tourism Ministry has put off signing an ASA with Cambodia that had been scheduled for January 30. The ministry said that the accord would be signed by February. 

Cambodian officials had expressed an interest in connecting Nepal, particularly the upcoming Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa, during talks at the Icao Air Services Negotiation Event held in Antalya, Turkey in 2015.

The government has been entering into air service pacts with many countries besides making efforts to renegotiate existing agreements in a bid to improve international air connectivity. 

Since 1963, Nepal has signed bilateral ASAs with 38 countries, with New Zealand and Vietnam being the latest countries. This provides 6 million seats per annum to and from Nepal. However, less than 40 percent of this capacity is being utilized. Presently, 28 international airlines are operating flights from Kathmandu to 22 cities in Asia and Europe. 

Published: 02-02-2017 09:45

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