Yet again the national flag carrier Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has been criticized for its failure to meet the promise made before i.e postponement of the relaunch of its Japan service from September to November-end due to incomplete preparations. Even though Japan flights had been planned to start in September, many formalities and documentations remain to be done, the high officials claimed. Civil aviation officials from South Korea and Saudi Arabia are expected to visit Nepal in October to conduct a safety audit of NAC before allowing it to start flights to Seoul and Riyadh. Among NAC’s four proposed new destinations—Tokyo in Japan, Seoul in South Korea, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and Beijing or Guangzhou in China—the Japan service is likely to materialise by November-end, according to officials. Whether or not NAC will fly to Seoul and Riyadh will be known only after the audit reports, the newly-appointed executive chairman of NAC Madan Kharel said.
According to today’s The Kathmandu Post, “The corporation has formed a committee under the coordination of NAC’s former deputy managing director Raju Bahadur KC who has been mandated to prepare a timetable of operations, cost and benefit analysis of those sectors, and issues that needed to be sorted out to begin flights at the earliest.” Kharel said that the issue of appointing NAC’s general sales agent in Japan would also be finalised and approved by the board of directors within a few days. The national flag carrier plans to resume its Japan service after a 10-year break with three weekly flights to Tokyo. The Tourism Ministry had designated seven weekly flights for NAC to Narita International Airport, also known as Tokyo Narita Airport. NAC wants to resume flights to Japan after receiving two long-range Airbus A330 jets which arrived in June and July respectively.
NAC had begun preparations to operate flights to Kansai International Airport, Osaka as it was not allowed to serve other airports in Japan under the old air service agreement (ASA). On June 18, Nepal and Japan revised the ASA, increasing the number of flights sevenfold from twice weekly to 14 weekly flights with any type of aircraft on a reciprocal basis. The revised ASA allows NAC to fly to Narita International Airport and other airports in Japan.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the number of Nepalis living in Japan has swelled to more than 60,000 compared to 31,531 at the end of 2013. The Nepali community is the fifth largest foreign community in Japan. With the 2020 Olympic Games approaching, Japan will be an attractive destination for Nepalis, and the number of Nepalis in Japan is likely to grow substantially in the coming years, the ministry said. Every year, more than 10,000 Nepali students go to Japan to pursue higher studies and learn the Japanese language. Japan is the second most popular destination after the US among Nepali students going abroad to pursue higher studies, the ministry said.