KATHMANDU:

On June 18 Nepal and Japan revised their bilateral air services agreement (ASA), increasing the number of flights seven-fold from twice weekly to 14 weekly flights with any type of aircraft on a reciprocal basis. As per the old ASA signed on February 17, 1993, airlines were permitted to operate 400 weekly seats or two weekly flights out of a single airport. The deal followed negotiations lasting nearly 12 hours.

Nepali carriers are now allowed to fly to any airport in Japan, except Tokyo International Airport, commonly known as Haneda Airport, said Krishna Prasad Devkota, secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.

Haneda Airport, the busiest airport in Japan in terms of passenger traffic, is the fifth busiest airport in the world. Haneda is more desirable because it is just 15 km from Tokyo, compared to some 65 km for Narita International Airport.

Under the deal, Nepali carriers can operate three flights out of the allocated 14 weekly flights under fifth freedom traffic rights. For example, a Nepali carrier can land in Hong Kong or airports in other countries and pick up passengers and fly on to Japan.