Nepal is going to be the air transit route for international airlines, according to the revised Nepal-China Air Service Agreement (ASA) signed here today.
China has also approved the access of new Trans-Himalaya 1 (Bangkok-Kolkata-Nepalgunj-Indek in Pakistan), 2 and 3 airspaces for international air traffic that is going to benefit Nepal as the international airlines flying on Nepal's sky will pay the country, according to the international law.
Earlier, Nepal had proposed the three air routes at different meetings of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) but the most beneficial route – the Trans-Himalaya 2 – will be more beneficial.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has kept the Himalaya 2 airspace as a future requirement.
Implementation of the new airspace will allow international airlines to fly in the Nepali airspace, savings them fuel and distance, while Nepal will get revenue from it.
But Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will sign a letter of intent for the development of these three airspaces soon to formalise the new routes.
Likewise, Nepal’s proposal of 'circle navigation flights' for Nepali helicopters to Kailash-Mansarovar in Tibet is yet to be decided by China.
The revised bilateral air services agreement (ASA) – that tourism secretary Sushil Ghimire and CAAC’s deputy administrator Xia Xinghua signed the on behalf of their respective governments here today – also permitted the operation of 56 flights per week with any types of aircraft on a reciprocal basis. "Under the old ASA, Chinese airlines were allowed to operate 14 flights per week," according to the Ministry of Tourism.
Similarly, an additional seven flights per week will be added annually to 70 flights per week by 2016, according to the revised ASA that could be further revised, if one of the countries feels the need for more than 70 flights a week.
Permitted bi-lateral and third-party code-sharing by carriers of the two countries, the revised agreement has also given unlimited traffic rights for cargo-only flights with any types of aircraft.
China, on the occasion, also added a new point – Xian – one of the oldest cities in China that has more than 3,100 years of history for Nepali carriers making the seventh destination apart from Chengdu, Lhahsa, Beijing, Kunming, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Currently, Air China flies on Kathmandu-Lhasa route, Chine Estern flies on Kathmandu-Kunming route, China Southern links Kathmandu to Guangzhou, and Sichuan Airlines has expressed interest in connecting Nepal soon, whereas Nepali airlines do not fly to any of the Chinese cities. But China has agreed to remove the restriction for Nepali carriers to operate in Lhasa, as and when, they wish.Earlier, the two neighbours had signed the first ASA in 2003 and Air China started its direct flight in 2004.