Nepal’s Civil Aviation Ministry is getting set to sign bilateral Air Service Agreements (ASAs) with Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, pending the approval of the Cabinet.
A proposal was sent by the Ministry to the Cabinet to finalize the deal. They are also preparing to forward another proposal to sign an ASA with Australia.
“These three air agreements are expected to be signed after the second phase of provincial and federal elections slated to be held on December 7,” said Pramod Nepal, the Under-Secretary at the Ministry.
Nepal and Turkey agreed and signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on air service in September 2010. Services are already being operated as per the pact, which permits the two countries to service 14 weekly flights between Kathmandu and Istanbul.
“The final signature will confirm the agreement,” he said.
Similarly, Nepal and the UAE signed an MoU in December 2007 which gives the designated carriers of the two countries consent to operate 28 weekly flights.
The MoU was updated on April 16, 2013 approving 70 flights per week with any type of aircraft on a reciprocal basis. Moreover, the amended agreement has given limitless traffic rights to service cargo-only flights with any type of aircraft.
“We had planned to complete all these agreements at the 10th International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Air Services Negotiation Event (ICAN 2017) slated to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from December 4, but we had to drop the plan due to the elections in Nepal,” a spokesperson for Nepal said, stating that the venue and date for signing them were yet to be finalized.
With regards to the ASA with Australia, both nations have agreed to allow seven weekly flights with any type of aircraft. The Australian government has shown willingness to allow seven weekly flights to key cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
It has also proposed offering unlimited flights to other destinations. Third country code-share agreement, fifth freedom traffic rights, multiple designations, free pricing and unrestricted cargo are other features proposed by Nepal in the air accord.
The government had made a appeal to the Australian government to sign an air service pact as Nepal Airlines wanted to connect to Australia after acquiring two long-range Airbus A330-200s which are expected to be delivered by the first quarter of 2018.
According to a Nepal Air Traffic Analysis report arranged by Airbus in 2015, Australia is 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.
Since 1963, Nepal has signed bilateral ASAs with 38 countries, New Zealand and Vietnam being the latest countries.