The airline is returning to China in a passenger-carrying capacity for the first time after the pandemic.
Passengers looking for a direct flight between Nepal and China can now book on Himalaya Airlines, which is connecting the two countries with a direct air link for the first time in two years. Many are hoping for this to be the beginning of other direct flights between the neighboring countries, with Air China also reportedly planning to resume services to Kathmandu soon.
Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport
Om May 31st, a Himalaya Airlines Airbus A320 took off from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) for Kunming Changshui International Airport (KMG), making it the first direct flight between the two countries in two years.
Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi declared that Chinese authorities had eased the travel restrictions, paving the way to restart direct flights from Kathmandu to Kunming. The flight results from a meeting between the diplomats of the two nations, who discussed mutual relations between Nepal and China and the deal of cooperation between the two neighbors.
Flight H9784 is a once-a-week service on Tuesday with a scheduled departure of 09:00 and a coming of 14:15. The return flight H9785 departs Kunming at 16:15 and has a scheduled coming in Kathmandu at 17:25. As of now, this is the only direct flight between the two countries, but some information suggests that Air China is likely to fly to Kathmandu soon.
Nepal Tourism Board counted more than 53,000 visitors
Tourism in Nepal is picking up gradually, with the Nepal Tourism Board counting more than 53,000 visitors in May 2022 alone. However, these numbers are still low compared to the 1.5 million tourists in 2019 who came by air.
Before COVID, China was the second-largest supplier of tourists to Nepal after India. While Indians have begun arriving back, people from China haven’t returned in any substantial numbers. Since January, a little more than 1,500 Chinese nationals have visited Nepal, compared to 1,69,543 arrivals in 2019.
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While the Himalaya flight is a good beginning, it’s not expected to herald any substantial change in the exchange of passengers between the two nations. That will only happen once China eases border policies for general tourism.
In his keynote address to the Changi Aviation Summit last month, IATA director general Willie Walsh told that as long as the Chinese government continues to maintain a zero-Covid approach, it is hard to see the country’s borders reopening, and this will hold back the region’s complete recovery.
Himalaya Airlines is a joint venture of Nepal and China
Established in 2014, Himalaya Airlines is a joint venture of Nepal and China, begun after a deal between Tibet Aviation Development & Investment Company Ltd. (TADIC) from Tibet Autonomous Region of The People’s Republic of China and Yeti World Investment Pvt. Ltd. of Kathmandu, Nepal.
According to ch-aviation, it operates an all-Airbus narrowbody fleet of four airplanes – 3 A320s and 1 A319, which it received in March 2020. The airline currently operates passenger flights to destinations in the Middle East and South Asia, such as the UAE, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Bangladesh.
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