Government gearing up to sign ASA with three countries
Kathmandu, July 3
In line with Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC)’s plans to expand its international services, the government is gearing up to sign bilateral air service agreement (ASA) with Australia and is planning to ink revised ASAs with United Arab Emirate (UAE) and Thailand.
“We have been holding talks with Australia to sign our first memorandum of understanding (MoU) regarding ASA,” said Pramod Nepal, undersecretary at Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA).
According to him, the governments of Nepal and Australia have agreed to operate seven weekly flights. Both the countries have discussed allowing Nepali airlines to fly to major Australian cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
“We have received positive response from the Australian government on the draft MoU. We are in the process of preparing a final MoU based on the feedback and hope to sign the ASA very soon,” Nepal added.
As per Nepal, they have proposed that the agreement include provisions related to fifth freedom, unrestricted cargo, code-sharing, among others.
“Flights to Australia have become more viable in recent years as the number of Nepali students pursuing their academics in Australia and the number of Australian tourists visiting Nepal have both gone up,” he stated.
Separately, Nepal is planning to sign a revised MoU with UAE. After signing the agreement for the first time in 1999, the two countries had signed the revised MoUs in 2013 and 2015.
According to Undersecretary Nepal, the country is hoping to ink a revised agreement that would increase the number of flights between the two countries from 28 weekly flights at present.
Likewise, the government is also in the process of negotiating with the Thai government to revise the old ASA, which was signed in 1971 to operate daily flights to Thailand. Then in 2004, Nepal and Thailand inked a revised MoU that increased the number of weekly flights to 10.
“We expect the revised agreement to be ready in the near future,” Nepal added.
Last week, NAC received its first-ever 274 seater Airbus 330-200 series wide-body aircraft from AAR Corporation. NAC is scheduled to receive a second aeroplane of the same make later this month. It also plans to acquire two narrow-body aircraft by 2019. All these planes would be used to expand its international fleet.
Till date Nepal has signed bilateral ASAs with 38 countries. As per the agreements, Nepali airlines are allowed to operate 214 flights per day to and from Nepal to various destinations. According to governmental officials, Nepal has, however, been able to utilise only 40 per cent of aforementioned flights due to less number of carriers.