The Nepalese government has asked the Chinese government to permit Himalaya Airlines to operate flights to and from major international airports in Beijing and Guangzhou.
Officials of the Civil Aviation Ministry have indicated that they have already penned a letter to the Chinese government a couple of weeks ago, requesting Himalaya to be allowed landing permits at key aviation hubs in China. Although Himalaya Airlines is a joint venture between Nepal and China, it was not able to get the landing permits in airports of major Chinese cities. Since then, it has set its eyes on the Chinese market.
Himalaya had written to the Ministry requesting that the diplomatic channel be utilized to request the Chinese government to speed up the process of granting permission to use the airports in Beijing and Guangzhou.
“We have sent a letter to the Chinese government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” bared the officials. The carrier has shown great interest in operating daily flights to the two main Chinese cities.
Nepal Airlines is also targeting the Chinese market. Although the national flag carrier had applied for landing rights at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport back in 2015, it had yet to receive the permit.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) officials believe that Himalaya and Nepal Airlines were not given clearance to use Chinese airports due to fallout of the significant safety concern (SSC) tag slapped on Nepal by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) during its audit report in 2013.
“Now the SSC has been lifted and we are optimistic that both the airlines will get the operating authorization,” said CAAN officials. “It will be surprising if China denies issuing the permit now.”
Nepal and China had agreed to a revised bilateral air services agreement (BASA) in February 2014, allowing the operation of 56 flights per week with any type of aircraft on a reciprocal basis. The pact allowed each country to boost the flight frequency to 70 per week by 2016. Under the old BASA, Chinese airlines were permitted to operate 14 flights per week. Currently, five Chinese carriers—Air China, China Southern, China Eastern, Sichuan Airlines and Tibet Airlines—operate flights to Nepal. With operation of these flights, flight operation quota extended to Chinese airline companies has already been completely utilized.
According to the CAAN, a request recently made by China Southern to operate additional flights to Nepal could not be accommodated because of the full utilization of the flight operation quota.
In March 2016, Himalaya Airlines had taken delivery of its first aircrafts to serve the international market. The carrier holds a fleet of three A320 jets and serves direct flights to Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Doha and Dammam. The airlines had previously planned to launch scheduled flights from October 2014, but the plan was shelved due to “technical problems”. The devastating earthquakes of 2015 further delayed it.
The company plans to connect various Asian and Middle East cities. It also plans to obtain 15 Airbus aircraft, including long-haul A330 wide-body jets, to expand operations to Japan, Korea, Europe, Australia, and the Americas in the next five years.