•      Fri Jun 2 2023

First Kathmandu-Beijing flight begins

Kathmandu, Oct. 27: Private carrier Himalaya Airlines have started its inaugural flight to Beijing on Sunday, marking the first-ever capital-to-capital direct flight between Nepal and China.

Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai and Chinese Ambassador to Nepal at the inaugural program at the airport.

The service departed from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport at 8:30 am local time and reach Daxing International Airport at 4:10 pm local time. The return flight leaves at 5:40 pm and reaches Kathmandu at 9:45 pm the same day.

Himalaya Airlines said that it would operate two weekly flights on Tuesdays and Fridays till November 8 using an Airbus A320 jet. From November 10, the carrier plans to operate three weekly flights on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. The Kathmandu-Beijing flight is 5 hours 30 minutes long.

The newly-opened $11 billion ‘starfish’ mega airport in Beijing sprawls over 700,000 square metres, or as large as 98 football fields, and is the world’s second-busiest hub after Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia, US.

“All preparations for the Beijing service have been completed,” said Vijay Shrestha, vice-president of administration of Himalaya Airlines. “We will operate daily flights on the Beijing route shortly,” he said. “We have targeted to bring around 40,000 tourists from China annually, and it may contribute to the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign.”

Initially, the carrier had planned to operate Airbus A319 aircraft on the Kathmandu-Beijing route, but due to a new rule in the Foreign Investment and Transfer of Technology Act, the plan to lease the plane has been postponed.

“The act stipulates that even for leasing planes, the foreign direct investment proposal needs to be approved,” said Shrestha. “This is not practical as it takes a lot of time to get approval.”