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Nepal Airlines receives fare clearance for Osaka flights

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Apr 26, 2019-

Japan Civil Aviation Bureau approved the passenger fare filed by Nepal Airlines Corporation on Wednesday, opening the way for the national flag carrier to make preparations to operate direct flights to Osaka. At most international airports, foreign carriers are required by law to file passenger fares.

Navaraj Koirala, deputy spokesperson for Nepal Airlines, said they had received fare clearance for Kansai International Airport, Osaka from Japan’s civil aviation agency. “We filed the fare tariff last Friday.” Koirala said they were yet to receive flight permission to serve the airport.

“The fare filing approval means the carrier can begin selling tickets. We think it will take at least two weeks to get the operating permit,” he said, adding that Nepal Airlines would not open ticket sales until it gets the flight permission. “We have targeted to operate non-stop flights to Japan by the first week of July.”

Last February, the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau informed the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal that it would conduct safety checks of Nepal Airlines before allowing it to resume flights to Kansai International Airport which were suspended in 2007 for lack of aircraft. This forced the state-owned carrier to postpone the relaunch. Nepal Airlines had originally planned to resume its Japan service in November-end, but the date was pushed back to February 2019 due to incomplete preparations.

Subsequently, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal sent all documents including the International Civil Aviation Organization audit report on Nepal’s aviation safety progress to the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau. Nepal Airlines said it had completed the entire process related to ground handling, catering and refueling at Kansai International Airport. It also plans to operate flights to Narita International Airport and has already applied for a slot there.

According to the carrier, if it gets permission to operate flights to both airports, it would be two weekly flights on each sector. If it chooses to serve only one airport, it can operate three weekly flights.

On June 18 last year, 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.

As per the old air service agreement signed on February 17, 1993, Nepali airlines were permitted to operate 400 weekly seats or two weekly flights out of a single airport. Nepal Airlines launched its Japan service in 1994, flying to Osaka via Shanghai, China. In 2007, it was forced to suspend the route as it did not have enough planes.

The carrier expects the resumption of its Japan service to help improve its financial health. Nepal Airlines has found itself in the midst of money problems because it has not been able to fly its newly acquired two Airbus A330s jets on profitable long routes like Japan and Europe.

The number of travellers from Nepal to Japan has been growing significantly in the last few years. The country received 29,768 Japanese tourists last year, up 8.9 percent compared to the 2017 figure. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the number of Nepalis living in Japan has swelled to more than 60,000 compared to 31,531 at the end of 2013. The Nepali community is the fifth largest foreign community in Japan. Japan will be an attractive destination for Nepalis, and the number of Nepalis in Japan is likely to grow substantially in the coming years, the ministry said.

The World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief 2019 said that Japan had identified nine priority countries as foreign labour sources on the heels of a new policy to admit 345,000 foreign workers over a period of five years starting April 11, 2019. The report said that Nepal and the Philippines signed a memorandum of cooperation with Japan on March 25, 2019 to supply manpower who will be admitted into 14 sectors facing severe labour shortages in Japan.

Every year, more than 10,000 Nepali students go to Japan to pursue higher studies and learn the Japanese language. Japan is the second most popular destination after the US among Nepali students going abroad to pursue higher studies, according to the ministry.

Published: 26-04-2019 08:46

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