Himalaya Airlines looks likely to become the first Nepali airlines to operate flights to Beijing toward the end of the year.
The airlines has started preparations at various levels with China giving words to provide a slot for Nepali airlines once the Beijing Daxling International Airport, the second international airport in the Chinese capital, comes into operation at the end of September.
“Our aim is to operate direct flights to Beijing. We are making all the preparations for that. We are only awaiting permission,” Vice-president of Himalaya Airlines Bijay Shrestha told Setopati.
Chinese aviation authority has already carried out safety audit of Himalaya Airlines, that has applied for permission to fly to different Chinese cities, and Shrestha claimed that the Chinese side is satisfied after the audit.
Nepali Ambassador to China Lila Mani Paudel also said there is chance of Nepali airlines getting chance to operate flights to Beijing once the second international airport there comes into operation.
“We are discussing the issue. There is a chance of Himalaya Airlines getting to operate flights to Beijing,” Paudel said. “But the Nepal Airlines Corporation has not even applied until now. It does not seem to have a plan to operate flights to Beijing.”
Officials of the national flag carrier, that brought two wide-body airplanes six months back, say they have no immediate plan to start flights to Biejing. “We are now preparing for flights to Guangzhou. We will possibly start flights from May. We are studying to operate flights to Shanghai after that. There is no immediate plan for Beijing,” deputy spokesperson of NAC Nava Raj Koirala said.
No Nepali airlines currently operate flights to Nepal with Chinese airlines companies operating around 48-55 flights to Kathmandu from Lhasa, Chengdu, Kunming and Guangzhou.
Chinese airlines Tibet Airlines, China Eastern, Sichuan, China Southern and Air China have been operating regular flights to Kathmandu but no Nepali airlines has been given permission to fly to China.
Himalaya Airlines, with 49 percent stake of Tibet Airlines, looks set to become the first Nepali airlines to start flights to the capital city of northern neighbor.