State-owned Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has started preparations to launch three long-haul routes in Asia, but it has had to put its European plans on hold as Nepali carriers are still banned in the EU.
On Monday, the corporation invited proposals from potential ground handling service providers at Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan. It had made a similar call to prospective ground handling service providers at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea last Friday reports The Kathmandu Post.
NAC invited bids for ground handling services at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last December. As per the initial proposal, the national flag carrier has planned to operate four weekly flights to Riyadh, three weekly flights to Incheon and two weekly flights to Osaka.
Recently, the Tourism and Civil Aviation Ministry named three international long-haul routes for NAC to serve after it receives its two wide-body aircraft on order in the next three months.
NAC Managing Director Sugat Ratna Kansakar said that the first of the two Airbus A330-200 planes would arrive in May, and the second by June.
According to him, a NAC team is scheduled to visit the Airbus plant in Toulouse, France next month to inspect the 274-seater jets it has ordered from Hi Fly X, a leasing company based in Ireland.
The carrier has borrowed Rs24 billion from the Citizen Investment Trust (CIT) and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to buy the planes.
NAC had planned to fly to the Japanese capital of Tokyo, but this did not happen as the air service agreement (ASA) between Nepal and Japan has designated Kansai International Airport in Osaka. The Tourism Ministry is also preparing to revise the ASA with Japan to permit Nepali carriers to fly on other routes in Japan.