Nepal, China revise ASA

Nepal ChinaNepal and China have revised Air Service Agreement (ASA) by increasing flight frequency four four-fold to 56 a week.

As per the revised pact signed on Monday, an additional seven flights per week will be added annually to 70 flights per week by 2016.

No Nepali airline is currently operating flight to the northern neighbor. However, four Chinese airlines – Air China, China Southern and China Eastern – link Kathmandu with different Chinese cities.

Tourism secretary Sushil Ghimire and Xia Xinghua, deputy administrator of Civil Aviation Administration of China, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective governments.

The new ASA permits both the countries unlimited traffic rights for cargo flights with any type of aircraft. It also allows bilateral and third-party code-sharing by carriers of the two countries.

According to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Nepali and Chinese carriers can operate from seven Chinese cities – Chengdu, Lhasa, Beijing, Kunming, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xian.

China has also agreed to remove the restriction for Nepali carriers to fly to Lhasa – the capital of Tibet. So far, Chinese carriers were enjoying monopoly on the route. They were charging airfare of as much as $450 for one-way flight.

Though Lhasa is connected to a few Chinese cities, Kathmandu is the only international destination connected with the Tibetan capital.

Meanwhile, the Chinese side said it would need some time to study Nepal’s proposal of allowing ‘circle navigation flights’ for Kailash-Mansarovar area in Tibet.

Kailash-Mansarovar area is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus. Hundreds of Indian tourists reach the area every year via Nepal.

Meanwhile, Shichuan Airlines have expressed interest to fly to Nepal in the near future.

Nepal and China first signed ASA in 2003. Air China started flying to Nepal a year later.

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