Over 12 hours of non-stop negotiation between the government authorities of Nepal and Japan resulted in the amendment of 24-year-old air service agreement (ASA) in Tokyo today, which has paved way for Nepali airlines to fly to various Japanese international airports.
“Our 10-year effort finally bore fruit today and Nepali airlines have been granted access to various international airports” Pramod Nepal, undersecretary at Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA), informed The Himalayan Times from Tokyo over the phone.
Nepal and Krishna Prasad Devkota, secretary of MoCTCA, had left for Japan on June 16 to negotiate and sign the ASA.
Nepal and Japan had signed a first bilateral air transport agreement on June 2, 1994, allocating 400 weekly seats to Nepali airlines. The number of seats translated to just two flights every week. Reportedly, the Japanese were willing to allow only one flight per day to Nepal, but they reconsidered during the negotiation process.
The revised agreement has now allowed Nepali airlines to operate 14 flights per week or two flights per day to Japan.
Until 2008, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) was the sole carrier that used to fly to Osaka from Kathmandu via Shanghai of China. With the new ASA in place, a number of Nepali airlines are gearing up to launch direct flights to Japan.
Now, Nepali airlines will have access to all major international airports in Japan, except for Haneda Airport, which is at a close proximity with Tokyo.
“The Japanese authorities turned down our request to allow access to Haneda Airport due to traffic congestion,” Nepal explained.
Japan has, nevertheless, allowed Nepali airlines to access other major airports, including Narita International Airport, Kansai International Airport and Chubu Centrair International Airport.
According to Nepal, Nepali carriers will also be allowed to fly to smaller international airports. Japan has 24 other smaller international airports.
According to Nepal, Nepali carriers have also been granted ‘fifth freedom’ to Japan. The terms ‘freedom’ and ‘right’ are a shorthand way of referring to the type of international services permitted between two or more countries. The fifth freedom is the right to fly between two foreign countries on a flight originating or ending in one’s own country.
“The fifth freedom is a major breakthrough for Nepali airlines, which allows Nepali carriers to operate connecting flights via Japan,” he stated.
Source: The Himalayan Times