Nepal and Australia have made significant strides and are getting nearer to signing the first bilateral Air Services Agreement (ASA), as Nepal Airlines is raring to start operations to the Land Down Under after acquiring new long-range planes.
Nepal’s Civil Aviation Ministry officials bared Australian officials had responded positively to the proposal, and sent its response on the draft ASA prepared by Nepal.
“We are preparing to send our views to Australia,” said Pramod Nepal, Undersecretary at the Ministry.
“Once both sides agree on a common agenda, the draft will be tabled at the Cabinet for its approval to sign the ASA. Negotiations will begin after the Cabinet’s clearance,” Nepal added.
Nepal conveyed that the date and venue for signing the accord will also be settled after the two sides agree on the items in the agreement.
The Ministry had asked the Australian government to permit 14 weekly flights with any type of aircraft. The Australian government has said they are willing to allow seven weekly flights to Australia’s major cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, said Nepal.
“It has proposed providing unlimited flights for other destinations,” Nepal declared.
Third country code-share agreement, fifth freedom traffic rights, multiple designations, free pricing and unrestricted cargo are other elements that were proposed by Nepal in the air accord.
Nepal said that the new deal would be rooted in “the principal place of business” rather than the traditional “principle of airline substantial ownership.”
In other countries including India, a flight operation permit is allowed only if a majority of the shareholders in an airline company are from the country where the firm is based. Nepal’s foreign direct investment policy, however, grants foreign investors authority to hold up to 80% of the shares in an airline.
The government had requested the Australian government for a flight operation permit as Nepal Airlines planned to link to Australia after obtaining two long-range Airbus A330-200s which are to be delivered by the first quarter of 2018.
o a Nepal Air Traffic Analysis report in 2015, Australia is an considered to be 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 Nepal.