Nepal, Bhutan agree on six-point agenda to boost air con­nec­tiv­ity and tourism

As per the ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion agree­ment, the two coun­tries have de­cided to give per­ma­nent sta­tus to the air ser­vice agree­ment

Bhutan Times - - EDITORIAL -

Jan 9, 2016- Nepal and Bhutan on Fri­day agreed on a six-point agenda to boost air con­nec­tiv­ity and tourism be­tween the two land-locked coun­tries.

Nepal’s Tourism Min­istry Sec­re­tary Di­nesh Ku­mar Tha­paliya and Bhutan’s Sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Kin­ley Dorji signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing on be­half of their re­spec­tive gov­ern­ments in Kath­mandu to for­malise the agen­das in the near fu­ture.

As per the ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion agree­ment, the two coun­tries have de­cided to give per­ma­nent sta­tus to the air ser­vice agree­ment (ASA) signed and re­vised in dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods. Nepal and Bhutan signed the ASA in Fe­bru­ary 2004, which had al­lowed seven weekly flights. It was re­vised on May 17, 2014, per­mit­ting flight fre­quency to 21 per week.

Like­wise, Nepal has agreed Bhutan’s pro­posal to grant two more traf­fic fre­quency on Paro-Kath­mandu-Delhi and Delhi- Kath­mandu-Paro from ex­ist­ing four per week un­der the fifth free­dom rights.

“The pledged ex­tra fre­quency will be im­ple­mented by sign­ing an ex­change of let­ter be­tween the two coun­tries in the near fu­ture,” said Tha­paliya.

Al­though Bhutan had asked two other routes— Bag­do­gra and Bod­hgaya of In­dia—to Kath­mandu un­der the fifth free­dom traf­fic rights, tourism min­istry of­fi­cials said the re­quest has been “duly noted”.

Un­der Nepal’s re­quest, Bhutan has agreed to of­fer “be­yond rights” fa­cil­i­ties for Nepali car­ri­ers, or “stopover” traf­fic where pas­sen­gers may em­bark or dis­em­bark at an in­ter­me­di­ate stop as part of an itin­er­ary be­tween the end­points of a con­nect­ing flights.

The be­yond points rights as asked by Nepali sides are Kath­mandu-Paro-Bangkok; Kath­mandu-ParoNaypyi­daw, the cap­i­tal city of Myan­mar; Kath­man­duParo-Hanoi, the cap­i­tal of Viet­nam; and Kath­man­duParo- Ph­nom Penh; the cap­i­tal city of Cam­bo­dia.

Tha­paliya said the two coun­tries also agreed to sign a sep­a­rate MoU be­tween Tourism au­thor­i­ties to boost tourism by sim­pli­fy­ing im­mi­gra­tion pro­ce­dures. To in­crease the air con­nec­tiv­ity to and be­tween Saarc coun­tries, Nepal and Bhutan have agreed to raise the is­sues of sim­pli­fy­ing air routes and con­nec­tiv­ity at dif­fer­ent Saarc fo­rums.

“Nec­es­sary le­gal process will be ex­pe­dited to im­ple­ment the ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion agree­ment and it may take at least 4-5 months to com­plete the process,” Tha­paliya said. “Once all the agen­das are im­ple­mented, it will give a big boost for tourism of the both coun­tries.”

Cur­rently, Bhutan’s first pri­vate air­line Tashi Air (also known as Bhutan Air­lines) and Druk Air have been con­nect­ing Nepal. Nepali pri­vate car­rier Bud­dha Air, which had launched com­mer­cial flights to Paro on Au­gust 23, 2010, has been mak­ing char­ter flights to Bhutan.

(Cour­tesy: The Kath­mandu Post)

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