Kathmandu-Beijing first direct flight
Nepal’s private carrier Himalayan Airlines is set to operate regular flights to the newly inaugurated Daxing International Airport, Beijing.
China and Nepal did another revision of Bilateral Air Services Agreement in July 2019 which is going to increase the number of flights from 70 flights per week to 98 per weeks reciprocally. Since the revised agreement of 2014, Nepalese carriers had the permission to fly to cities such as Kunming, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, however, no Nepalese carrier was actually given permission to fly to China. Until now, only Chinese carriers have been operating between different cities of China to Kathmandu that include Air China, China Southern, China Eastern, Sichuan Airlines and Tibet Airlines.
Now apart from Beijing, the Himalayan airlines has plans to add other destinations such as Lhasa, Nanchang, Guiyang, Changsha and several other in addition to the existing destinations covered by Chinese carriers. So far, Air China has been operating between Lhasa and Kathmandu — Kathmandu is the only international destination having direct flight access to Lhasa, Tibet.
Increasing flight connectivity between Nepal and China is expected contribute to Visit Nepal 2020 as Nepal has the target of bringing 500,000 Chinese tourists to Nepal. The year 2018 saw a strong increase of 46.8 percent in Chinese tourists arrival in Nepal reaching the figure of 153,602. Himalayan airlines will be a joint venture between China’s Tibet Civil Aviation Development and Investment (49 percent stake) and Nepal’s Yeti World Investment (51 percent stake).
The first ever flight by a Nepali carrier between Kathmandu-Beijing is expected to fly at the end of October, the same month Chinese President Xi is expected to visit Nepal for the first time. Meanwhile, Chinese communist party members have been in Kathmandu to give lessons on Xi’s thoughts to the ruling Nepal Communist Party’s rank and files which has become controversial in Nepal also. There has been wide criticism of Nepalese communist leaders for trying to deepen ideological interactions with Chinese communist party instead of keeping the ties limited to economic and diplomatic relations. While interactions between party members of the two countries are not new, this is the first of its kind that happens in Nepal where Chinese members “teach” Nepalese communists about Xi’s thoughts. (Source of some data in the article: The Kathmandu Post)
Nepal Matters for America, September 30, 2019
Photo Courtesy: Altai Nepal (https://nepal.altaibasecamp.com/en/home)