China Eastern to start Kathmandu-Kunming flight


One more Chinese airline is all set to start service to Nepal. The Nepal government has given permission to China Eastern Airlines (CEA) to start its air service to Nepal. It has been given the operating authorization by the Nepal government as per Article 4 (3) of the air service agreement (ASA) signed between Nepal and China in 2003.

China Eastern Airlines is the third Chinese airline allowed by the Chinese government to operate in Nepal. According to the Ministry of Tourism, the company has presented a plan to the ministry to start Kunming-Kathmandu service thrice a week from September. It will be using Boeing 737-700 aircraft on the route.

The ASA has a provision that airlines authorized by both countries can operate 14 flights per week between Nepal and China. As per that provision, Air China is operating seven weekly flights between Beijing-Kathmandu and China Southern Airlines is operating three weekly flights between Guangzhou-Kathmandu.

Based in Shanghai, China Eastern Airlines is one of the biggest airlines of China. Established in 1988, CEA is the controlling shareholder of China Cargo Airlines, China Eastern Jiangsu Airlines and China Eastern Wuhan Airlines.

CEA operates over 80 international and regional routes and over 330 domestic routes which connect 110 cities in China and abroad. It has 200 large-to-medium sized modern jets, comprising of A340-600, A340-300, A330, A320 series, B767 and B737 series.

With CEA starting its operation from the first week of September, the number of international airlines providing air service in Nepal has reached 19.

Tourism entrepreneurs expect CEA's Nepal operation to boost tourist arrivals from China.

According to the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB), tourist arrivals from China declined by 2 percent in 2008. The NTB data shows that 14,706 Chinese came to Nepal in 2008 against 14,426 of 2007. However, the number is encouraging this year with air arrivals up by 4 percent in the first seven months. Chinese tourists have a negligible share in overall tourist arrivals in Nepal.

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