KATHMANDU, July 27: Nepal and China have decided to increase the number of flights between the two countries to 98 per week, from the existing 70 flights.
The decision comes as a revision to an agreement between Nepal and China five years ago that provided for operation of 70 flights per week from each side.
Currently, China has been operating 56 flights to Nepal per week, whereas Nepal has not been able to operate a single flight to China in the past five years.
With the new decision, 15 destinations of China have been opened for Nepal, adding eight new destinations to the current list of Beijing, Shanghai, Lhasa, Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu, and Xi’an.
A meeting between the Nepali and Chinese aviation authorities was held in Beijing to revise the air service agreement.
The two-day meeting that concluded on Friday was led by Suresh Acharya, joint secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation from the Nepali side and Bai Wenli, deputy director general of Civil Aviation Administration from the Chinese side.
The officials stressed on intensifying mutual cooperation and collaboration on promoting bilateral air connectivity and further utilizing and expanding the opportunities in civil aviation sector between the two countries.
According to the revised agreement, 77 flights will be operated from Kathmandu and the remaining 21 from Gautam Buddha International Airport and Pokhara Regional International Airport when these airports come into operation.
According to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries on Friday, Nepal and China both can operate equal number of flights.
Nepal Airlines Cooperation used to operate few flights a week before 2007. However, it discontinued because of decrease in number of aircrafts with the corporation. Since then, no Nepali airline has operated commercial flights to China. Though Himalayan Airlines has started operating flights to Xi’an, these are only chartered flights.
In the meeting, the Nepali side urged the Chinese side to extend necessary support and facilities to Nepal airlines. In response, the Chinese side agreed to expedite the process of issuing necessary authorization to Nepal Airlines and Himalayan Airlines according to their application for operating flights between Kathmandu to Guangzhou and Beijing.
After the development of adequate technical facilities at Gunsa Airport in Tibet, flights of Nepali airlines will be allowed to land at that airport while circumnavigating Mount Kailash as part of mountain flight.
China has opened Nepal as a tourist destination from 2002. Currently, Chinese tourists in Nepal are the second highest in number after Indians. Tourism entrepreneurs have been saying that an increase in flight frequency between Nepal and China will be crucial for the success of Visit Nepal Year 2020.