The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation is looking to hold discussions with Australia on a possible air services agreement (ASA).
According to sources, the ministry is preparing to propose an ASA between Australia and Nepal during the upcoming 40th International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly to be held in Montreal, Canada from 24th Sept – 4th Oct.
A team led by Minister Yogesh Bhattarai will be reaching out to the team representing Australia in the sidelines of the Assembly, thereby proposing to a sign an ASA between the two countries. An air transport agreement (also sometimes called an air service agreement or ATA or ASA) is an agreement in which two nations sign to allow international commercial air transport services between their territories. It is considered a preliminary step when looking to fly to new nations.
Australia and Nepal have had earlier discussions regarding drafting ASAs, however talks were slow because Nepal Airlines did not have a carrier to do long-distance flights, and other, Australia wanted to use Nepal as a transit destination (not possible as TIA prevents large carrier landings).
However, this time Minister Bhattarai is positive because Nepal Airlines has acquired new wide-bodied aircraft and the soon to be opening Gautam Buddha International Airport at Bhairawaha.
As the Nepali diaspora in Australia increases, Nepal Airlines is keen to capitalise upon the growing route. Several Nepalese in Australia too have said they would fly with the national carrier if it were to operate direct flights with Nepal. Many have said it would be a moment of pride to see Nepal’s national carrier land in an airport in Australia.