Tibet Airlines Proposal to fly KTM under review

13th Mar, 2017 | Tourism Mail Crew

KATHMANDU, March 13 : Nepal is reviewing the proposal from Lhasa-based Tibet Airlines to operate flight between Kathmandu and Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province.

The Ministry of Tourism is assessing the documents an official said. If the carrier is granted permission then it will be the fifth Chinese Airline Company to fly to Kathmandu which will operate four flights in a week.

The airline, which is backed by Air China, had said in 2011 that it would launch flights to South Asia by 2015. Currently, four Chinese carriers--Air China, China Southern, China Eastern and Sichuan Airlines--operate flights to Nepal.

China Southern operates two daily flights on the Kathmandu-Guangzhou route, while China Eastern and Air China operate daily flights linking Kathmandu with Kunming and Lhasa, respectively. Sichuan operates four weekly flights on the Chengdu-Lhasa-Kathmandu sector.

Tibet Airlines has appointed Himalaya Airlines as its general sales agent in Kathmandu. According to the ministry officials, they are also assessing whether an airline can appoint another airline as its general sales agent. Besides, Tibet Airlines also holds a 49 percent stake in Himalaya Airlines.

Nepal and China signed a revised bilateral air services agreement (ASA) in February 2014 permitting the operation of 56 flights a week with any type of aircraft on a reciprocal basis.

Under the revised pact, seven weekly flights were added on an annual basis since 2015, which took the number of weekly flights to 70 by 2016. Under the old ASA, Chinese airlines were allowed to operate 14 flights per week.

Nepal has been witnessing a constant growth in Chinese tourist arrivals since June 2009. The number of visitors from north of the border crossed the 100,000 mark in 2013, reaching an all-time high of 113,173, largely due to improved air connectivity between the two countries. Nepal received 123,805 Chinese visitors in 2014, up 10 percent year-on-year.

However, Chinese arrivals to Nepal plummeted following the 2015 killer earthquake and India’s trade embargo, dampening the enthusiasm of tourism entrepreneurs who had got their hopes up because of the fast rising market.

The earthquake and border blockade coming one after the other led to arrivals from China to drop to a four-year low of 66,984 individuals in 2015, down 45.89 percent from the previous year.

However, Chinese tourist arrivals jumped 55.26 percent to 104,005 in 2016. Of the total number, 23,452 Chinese visitors entered the country through Rashuwagadi.

China has announced Nepal Tourism Promotion Year 2017 in a bid to encourage its citizens to visit the Himalayan republic.