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Nepal, Japan revised ASA

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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.

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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.

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Over 500,000 tourists visit Nepal in first 6 months

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KATHMANDU — As many as 520,000 tourists visited the country in the first six months of the year 2018.

This is 13 per cent increment in tourist arrivals compared to the number of tourists visiting the country during the corresponding period last year, according to the Department of Immigration.

During the same period last year, a total of 460,304 foreign tourists had visited the country. The data shows that tourist arrivals were encouraging even during the rainy season. It may be noted that Nepal Tourism Board held tourism promotional programs aimed at attracting more tourists to Nepal.

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NTB Chief Executive Officer Deepak Raj Joshi said increase in the number of foreigners even during off season was good news for tourism entrepreneurs. The contribution of the private sector to the country’s tourism cannot be ignored, he added.

The latest data shows that 96,372 Indian tourists visited Nepal in the period while the number of Chinese was 71,379. The number of tourists from the United States of America was 43,816, while the number Japanese tourists stood at 13, 851.

Nepal welcomed tourists especially from South Asia and European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, among others.

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