22-28 August 2014 #721

Expanding air links

Tourism industry is cautiously optimistic about the launch of a new joint venture private international airline, and a new domestic airline in Nepal

PRAKASH TIMILSENA
VENTURING JOINTLY: At the signing ceremony of Himalaya Airlines on 18 August are (from l to r) Vijay Shrestha of Yeti Air International, Chinese Ambassador Wu Chuntai, Prithvi Bahadur Pande of HIF Aviation and Cheng Yiru of Tibet Airlines.
The tourism industry is cautiously optimistic about the launch of a new joint venture private international airline, and a new domestic airline in Nepal.

Himalaya Airlines is a joint venture between Tibet Airlines of China and Nepali investors that include HIF Aviation Investment and Yeti Air International. At a signing ceremony on Tuesday at the Hyatt Regency, Himalaya Airlines announced it will start operations with Kathmandu to Lhasa and Chengdu flights on 28 October.

The company is acquiring two Airbus 319 Series 2 aircraft and has options for three more Airbus 320s as its network expands to points in India, the Gulf and Hong Kong. The airline said it is also eying direct flights through wide body aircraft to Europe by next year if demand picks up.

“You may ask what a banker is doing investing in an airline,” Prithvi Bahadur Pande of HIF Aviation said at the ceremony, “but we have realised the vast untapped potential for tourism and aviation in Nepal.” Cheng Yiru of Tibet Airlines said his company specialised in ultra-high altitude operations on the Plateau and said it made strong business sense for the tourism development of Tibet to partner with a Nepali company. “The joint venture will build on the age-old trans-Himalaya connection between Nepal and China,” he added.

Chinese Ambassador Wu Chun Tai stressed that this was a business-to-business joint venture, adding that it would further enhance Nepal-China cooperation in investment, trade and tourism. “Just as the Himalaya is a monument linking Nepal and China, Himalaya Airlines marks a new monument in economic cooperation between the two countries,” he added.


Domestic jet service

Meanwhile, Sourya Airlines is starting domestic operations with Bombardier CRJ 200 jets that will cut current turboprop flight time to and from Kathmandu on trunk city routes nearly half. Sourya’s first 50-seater Bombardier CRJ landed in Kathmandu on Monday and will be connecting Kathmandu and Dhangadi, Nepalganj, Bhairawa, Biratnagar and Bhadrapur. The airline says it is adding another CRJ200 next year. The airline was launched with overseas Nepali investment, and former pilots of Buddha Air and Yeti.

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