Nepal and Japan prepare to revise air services agreement

18th Jun, 2018 | Tourism Mail Crew

KATHMANDU, Jun 18: After a 10-year long wait, Nepal and Japan have agreed to sign a revised bilateral air services agreement (ASA) on Monday, as part of Nepal Airlines' preparatory works to re-launch flights to the "Land of the Rising Sun" after a 10-year long wait.

The movement of amending the two-and-a-half-decade-old ASA follows the national flag carrier's plan of spreading its wings to Japan. Nepal Airlines is willing to start services to Japan after receiving two long-range Airbus A330 jets, one of which is due to be delivered on June 27.

A two-member delegation led by Tourism Ministry Secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota flew to Tokyo, Japan to hold a negotiation on revising the ASA. The delegation is likely to sign the revised ASA on Monday.

According to tourism ministry officials, the Japanese side has proposed granting seven weekly flights while Nepal has asked for 14 weekly flights.

“The flight frequency will depend on how Nepal will negotiate on the matter,” said the officials. Besides, there are also issues regarding landing rights at Japan’s airports. NAC had wanted to begin services to Tokyo, but the ASA between Nepal and Japan only allows it to fly to Kansai International Airport in Osaka.

To permit Nepali carriers to fly to other Japanese cities, the Tourism Ministry moved to revise the ASA with Japan. Apart from Nepal Airlines, several private carriers like Buddha Air have plans to serve Japan to bring high-end tourists to Nepal in the near future.

During an initial discussion, Japan had said it was ready to provide landing rights to Nepali carriers at all airports except Haneda Airport in Tokyo due to congestion.

Haneda Airport, the busiest airport by passenger traffic in Japan, is the fifth busiest airport in the world. Haneda is more desirable because it is just 15 km from Tokyo, compared to some 65 km for Narita International Airport.

Nepal and Japan signed the ASA on February 17, 1993 allocating 400 weekly seats. The national flag carrier used to fly to Osaka via Shanghai until 2008, when it was forced to suspend the route due to lack of aircraft.