Monday, April 28, 2008

Six more international airlines to fly to Nepal

Six more international airlines to fly to Nepal

The recently declared ceasefire between the government and Maoist rebels has brought good news to the tourism industry. As tourists from around the world stream toward Nepal as a result of the improved political situation, a half dozen international airlines are planning to lure the swelling number of passengers to Nepal.

The airlines - GMG Bangladesh, Orient Thai, Air Arabia, Korean Air, Etihad, and Sri Lankan Airlines are set to hit Nepal as their new destination.

GMG Bangladesh Airlines said it would conduct flights on the Dhaka-Kathmandu route by the next month. "The airlines has plans to operate three flights a week starting from October 25," said Joy Dewan, managing director of Zenith Travels, general sales agent for GMG Bangladesh in Nepal.

Orient Thai Airlines, a budget airline from Thailand, and Air Arabia, a national budget airline of United Arab Emirates (UAE) have filed applications at the Ministry for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) for permission to fly to Nepal. "We are evaluating their applications," said an official at MoCTCA.

Orient Thai has asked Nepal's approval to operate three flights a week on the Bangkok-Kathmandu route. Air Arabia has requested the government to allow it to operate seven flights a week from Sharjah to Kathmandu. These are the first budget airlines planning to fly to Nepal. Korean Air is all set to operate direct-chartered flights to Kathmandu from Incheon, South Korea from November 13 for three-and-a-half months.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has permitted it to operate a total of 15 scheduled flights, one per week "After completing these chartered flights, the airline will operate regular scheduled flights if it gets the response it expects," KP Sitaula, coordinator of Association of Non-resident Nepalis in Korea, who was recently in the capital to make necessary preparations for the airline?s flights, said. The government has already granted Eithad Airways, the national airline of UAE permission to operate four flights a week from Abu Dhabi to Kathmandu. "It may send the flight schedule any time," said the official at MoCTCA.

Sri Lankan Airlines has also shown keen interest in flying to Nepal via New Delhi. However, lack of air seats is causing its interest to decline. Nepal agreed to provide 300 seats every week from Delhi during a recent review in the air service agreement (ASA), below from 500 seats demanded by the airline. "We are told that both countries are going to review ASA again in October.

The Nepali government has assured the airline it will increase air seats during the ASA review," said a source at the airline. "It will begin operation to Nepal as soon as it gets the demanded air seats." Operation of new airlines is expected to boost Nepali tourism industry that badly needs more international flights to lure tourists.

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