The commencement of flights to China by Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) will bring a new dimension in Nepal's tourism sector

July 1, 2019, 10:14 a.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL 12 No.21, June 28 –18 July, 2019 (Ashad 13, 2076) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

With four aircraft, including two wide bodied, NAC has already shown how strategically important the national flag carrier is for the country's tourism sector, particularly to end the monopoly in price by foreign airlines.

Thanks to the decision to increase frequency of flights in Kathmandu-New Delhi sector, foreign airlines’ mission to increase the fair by thee folds from Rs.15000.00 to almost Rs.50,000.00 has been foiled. After the shutdown of Jet Airways flight to Kathmandu, the prices reached to that level, which was more expensive than to fly to Bangkok.

Following the increase of additional flights by Nepal Airlines, the price range has gone down to around Rs.30,000.00. NAC's decision was very significant in the present context when a large number of India's holiday makers are planning to come to Nepal.

China flight

With two wide-body and two narrow-body aircraft, Nepal Airline is expanding its wings to different destinations of Asia including Japan, Korea, China, and Saudi Arabia, for now.

With the monopoly of Chinese Airlines, the fair for the Chinese tourists to travel to Nepal is higher. The commencement of regular NAC flights from Kathmandu to Chinese cities is likely to reduce the current fair to China.

NAC Wide Body 1.jpg

As China is the second largest market for the country’s tourism industry, regular flight operation to China is expected to boost the tourism sector.

Nepal Airlines is expected to bring in more Chinese tourists in 2020 to support Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign. “If everything goes according to plan, flights to China will begin soon,” said Navaraj Koirala, joint spokesperson for NAC. “Besides, we are preparing to operate commercial flights to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and Seoul in South Korea.”

As the national flag carrier has completed flight preparation to China, NAC is set to operate flights to Guangzhou as planned before. The airline will be operating flights to Guangzhou Baiyun International airport and all the process to commence the fight has been completed.

An official of the airline stated that all the documentation process for the flight has been completed and the corporation will be operating flights to neighboring country, with the wide-body Airbus A330 series aircraft.

The corporation has already provided all required documents to Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), which previously hadn’t provided Airline Operator’s Certificate (AOC) to Nepal Airlines for the flight.

The corporation currently operates international flights to Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kualalumpur, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Doha and Dubai. The corporation is also preparing to operate flights to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Seoul, South Korea.

NAC had also prepared to commence flights to Japan from early June, however, the corporation has now postponed the flights till end of August or early September due to very low bookings, contradictory to the expectation of the management.

NAC used to operate flights to China 10 years ago and even gave flight permission to Nepal with the right to fifth-class traffic freedom. However, the corporation stopped China’s flights following decrease in the number of aircraft.

In 2002, it was mentioned in the review of old bilateral agreement that Nepalese airlines can conduct up to 14 flights weekly. It was agreed to operate up to 70 flights in a week later.

At present, 6 airlines from China namely Air China, Cathay Dragon, China Eastern, China Southern, Sichuan and Tibet Airlines are operating flights to Kathmandu. However, no any Nepali airline is flying to China.

As per the ASA, Nepal can operate flights to 7 cities of China with a total of 70 flights. The agreement includes flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Lhasa, Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu and Xian.

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation is going to revise the air services agreement with China in July. The agreement will allow airline companies of both countries to operate flights in any airport of respective countries.

As Visit Nepal Year 2020 is coming closer, there is a growing feeling of importance of strong national carrier to meet the target of bringing over 2 million tourists. Only competitive and reasonable airfare can attract more tourists in Nepal. This can be done only through strong national flag carrier.

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has taken various steps to increase the number of international destinations. Under its new strategy, NAC is adding seven flights to New Delhi, making the number 21 flights a week.

NAC has already increased 3 flights recently and is operating 14 flights a week now. NAC has already got a slot to fly 21 flights and it will increase additional seven flights within a month.

Currently, NAC is using narrow-body aircraft for seven flights and wide body aircraft for other seven flights in New Delhi sector. Similarly, NAC has also increased one more flight to United Arab Emirates, flying four flights a week.

To increase the internal flights, NAC has already endorsed Approved Training Organization (ATO) to train pilots in Nepal. To operate the Y 12 aircraft regularly, two senior pilots are now getting the training and they will start flying within the month. To operate NAC's twin otter, NAC is adding human resources. Under this, training has already started by appointing senior instructor captain.

Disrupted for the last two years, the training of co-pilot has resumed. One co-pilot has completed his training and now CAN is processing license endorsement work. Three others are also receiving the training.

There is a lengthy process to use pilots for operation even after completing simulator training and license. To be eligible for regular flights, a pilot needs line clearance from instructor pilot. For this, he or she has to fly certain hours with the instructor pilot.

After adequate human resources for narrow-body planes, they will be promoted to fly wide-body aircraft. NAC is working to train more Nepalese human resources for wide-body planes. Nepal Airlines has already taken the initiative to recruit human resources through Public Service Commission. The process of appointment is at the final stage.

nac annapurna.jpg

NAC's Engineering Department is going to start maintenance of the aircraft from July, currently taken by International BCT Company. After this, NAC will save Rs.5 to 6 million. In another milestone, NAC's Continuing Airworthiness Management Department received IESO certificate following a successful audit. This shows NAC is always concerned to provide secure flights and is capable to provide quality service.

In the area of Ground Handling, NAC 's ISAGO's was already renewed by IATA's supervision. This shows that NAC is not behind any other international airline in terms of ground handling.

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