Nepal, Cambodia sign maiden air service pact

  • The agreement will allow both countries to operate 14 weekly flights and unlimited cargo flights.

  • Nepal and Cambodia on Thursday signed the first bilateral air service agreement (ASA), allowing 14 weekly flights in either direction.

  • The ASA will allow the airlines of both countries to launch commercial flights.

  • It was signed by Nepal’s Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari and Mao Havanall, Minister in charge of the Secretariat of Civil Aviation of Cambodia, amidst a programme.

  • The agreement also makes provision for code-sharing, including third-country code share, where airlines of both countries can partner with other airlines to facilitate services to each other’s market, he said. Similarly, a separate agreement has been signed to boost bilateral cooperation and cultural exchange between both countries, he said.

  • Cambodian officials said they wanted to establish air links with Nepal, particularly the upcoming Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa, during talks at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Air Services Negotiation Event in Antalya, Turkey, in 2015.

  • The national pride project in Bhairahawa is envisaged to serve the fast rising business and industrial hub of Bhairahawa and facilitate international pilgrimage to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha.

  • The much delayed airport project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019. The government plans to open the airport next year to help realise its goal of hosting 2 million tourists during the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign.

  • “The ASA is expected to bring Cambodian airlines to Gautam Buddha International Airport in the near future,” said Pramod Nepal, under secretary at the ministry. “With the signing of the first ASA, both the countries can mutually benefit in terms of tourism.” However, there is no application from domestic airlines from either countries yet to fly on the new route.

  • The international airport in Bhairahawa has been constructed to promote Lumbini as a Buddhist pilgrimage hub. The government has been planning to promote Buddhist pilgrimage in a big way.

  • According to International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, the Buddhist Circuit comprising Nepal and India is an important pilgrimage destination for the 450 million practicing Buddhists as well as travelers interested in history, culture or religion.

  • Mahayana Buddhism, including East Asian Buddhism, has 185 million followers.

  • This is the predominant form of Buddhism practised in China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam. Theravada Buddhism, with over 125 million followers, is the form of Buddhism predominantly practiced in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India.

  • Vajrayana Buddhism has approximately 20 million followers. This form is practised in the greater Tibetan and Mongolian regions, the Himalaya, Bhutan, parts of western China, the Russian Federation and Nepal.

  • Since 1963, Nepal has signed ASAs with 39 countries, with Cambodia being the latest signatories.Source : ekantipur