KATHMANDU, Aug 29: China Southern Airlines is operating daily flights to Nepal from China from this Thursday.
Organizing a special program in Kathmandu, officials of China Southern Airlines announced that the airline was operating daily flight between Guangzhou and Kathmandu from September 1. "We will fly to Kathmandu two times a day from October," Dhiraj Shrestha, deputy sales manager at China Southern Airlines office in Nepal, said.
Almost all the foreign carriers, including China Southern Airlines, were forced to suspend their flights to Nepal after last year's devastating earthquake and also aviation fuel shortage due to five-month blockade by India.
However, the Chinese airliner is increasing the flight frequency considering the growing number of Chinese tourists in Nepal also due to the festival season, he said.
The airline is currently operating three flights a week from Guangzhou to Kathmandu with Airbus A319 aircraft. "We are extending the number of flights because of increment in passenger frequency and major festivals," added Shrestha.
Four Chinese airlines are operating flights to Kathmandu at present. China is also the second largest tourist source market for Nepal. Since the Chinese carrier is planning to double the flight frequency, an increased flight is expected to contribute to raise the number of Chinese tourists which decreased by 28 percent in the first six months of 2016, according to the Department of Immigration.
Country-wise, arrivals from India increased 37.62 percent to 54,224 in the first six months of this year. However, arrivals from China decreased by 28 percent to 33,991, though Nepal has also started issuing on-arrival free visa for Chinese tourists to boost arrivals from the northern neighbor since January.
During the program, China Southern Airlines also awarded best travel agents based in Kathmandu.
According to the company that has served over 110 million passengers worldwide till 2015, it has 90 travel agents within Nepal.
Nepal received 313,512 tourists in the first half of 2016, against 277,992 in the same period a year ago. Despite the rise, the arrivals are still low as compared to previous years.
In 2014, the country had received 412,461 tourists in the first six months, according to the department, the tourist arrivals to Nepal fell to a six-year low of 538,970 in 2015 too. Nepal had received 251,148 less tourists last year, representing a sharp drop of 31.78 percent, compared to the 2014 figure.