Nepal and China have revised their ASA (Air Services Agreement) – the prior ASA allowed Nepal’s national flag carrier to fly to seven Chinese cities and now the number of cities have been increased to 15. But wait, there is a catch – Nepal has to pass a ‘safety audit test’ conducted by China to allow any carrier of Nepal Airlines to fly over Chinese skies.
A February ASA between China and Nepal provided for 70 flights per week to Nepal – the ASA is reciprocal, in the sense Nepal can make 70 flights to China per week, and vice versa. Of the 70, five Chinese Airlines make 46 flights per week to Nepal’s TIA, while Nepal makes none. China has denied permission for Nepal Airlines to fly to China citing ‘safety concerns’ as raised by the European Commission.
On Friday, the ASA was revised to 90 flights per week – China can fly to three destinations (Kathmandu, Pokhara and Bhairawaha) whereas Nepal can fly to 15 Chinese cities. However, Nepal Airlines will only be allowed to exercise its part of reciprocity once it clears the ‘safety audit’ test which will be conducted by a team of Chinese Civil Aviation Team. If the airlines fails the test, NA won’t be able to fly to any Chinese city. Nepal Airlines is confident they will pass the test.
Meanwhile, Himalayan Airlines has received a go-ahead to operate flights to Beijing once the construction of Daxing International Airport is complete.