TOKYO — Nepal and Japan have revised their 24-year-old bilateral air services agreement (ASA) on Monday in Tokyo following more than 12 hours of non-stop negotiation that increased the number of flights (seven-fold from twice weekly to 14 weekly flights) with any type of aircraft on a reciprocal basis.
Nepal and Japan had signed a first bilateral air transport agreement on June 2, 1994, allocating 400 weekly seats to Nepali airlines.
As per the old ASA, airlines were permitted to operate 400 weekly seats or two weekly flights out of a single airport. The deal followed negotiations lasting nearly 12 hours.
But, Nepali carriers are now allowed to fly to any airport in Japan, except Tokyo International Airport, commonly known as Haneda Airport, according to Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) Secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota.
Haneda Airport, one of the busiest airports in Japan in terms of passenger traffic, is also the fifth busiest airport in the world. Haneda is more desirable because it is just 15 km from Tokyo, compared to some 65 km for Narita International Airport.
The Japanese government also appeared flexible on fifth freedom traffic rights allowing Nepali carriers to operate three flights out of the allocated 14 weekly flights under fifth freedom traffic rights. With fifth freedom, a Nepali carrier can now, for example, land in Hong Kong or airports in other countries and pick up passengers and fly on to Japan.
Similarly, Nepali carriers can operate two weekly flights from Japan to beyond airports. For example, a Nepali airline can land at any designated airport in Japan and fly to any airport in the world from there.
Nepal Airlines wants to start services to Japan after receiving two long-range Airbus A330 jets, one of which is due to be delivered on June 27.
Apart from Nepal Airlines, several private carriers like Buddha Air have plans to serve Japan to bring high-end tourists to Nepal in the near future.
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.
Tourist arrivals up by 34pc as season kicks off
KATHMANDU — The inflow of foreign tourists in Nepal has increased by 33.8 per cent to 91,820 international visitors in arrivals in September, according to the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).
The country has received 91,820 foreign visitors in September,thanks to strong growth from India and China, according to a press statement issued by NTB.
Nepal has four main seasons — spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Autumn, which falls between September an November, is the best season to visit the Himalayan nation as the skies are clear giving stunning views of the Himalayan peaks.
Tourist arrivals from India grew by 96 per cent in September in comparison to the same period in 2017 while visitor arrivals from China has continued to soar with an exponential growth of 55 per cent in comparison to the arrivals in the same month last year.
Likewise, arrivals from Sri Lanka surged by 57.1 per cent. The overall arrivals from SAARC countries registered a sturdy growth of 52.8 per cent over the same month last year.
Likewise, arrivals from Asia (other than SAARC) have also recorded robust growth of 42.6 per cent. The number of visitors from Japan and South Korea has also increased by 8.9 per cent and 9.2 per cent, respectively.
The European markets generated 66.3 percent more visitors in September this year. Arrivals from Germany and France swelled 30.9 percent and 19 percent respectively.
However, New Zealand and Australia witnessed a decline of 9 percent and 4 percent compared to the 2017 figure. The number of visitors from the US and Canada also dropped 9 percent and 2 percent respectively in September.