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Nepal, China to launch joint venture airlines

A Chinese airlines has collaborated with domestic companies to start a new international airlines.

Himalaya Infrastructure Fund (HIF) Aviation Investment and Yeti World Investment along with China’s Tibet Airlines promoted Himalayan Airlines is going to start operation from October 25, informed chairman of HIF Aviation Prithivi Bahadur Pandè after signing tripartite joint venture agreement here today with chairman of Yeti World Investment Ang Tshiring Sherpa and chairman of Tibet Airlines Cheng Yiru.

The $25 million paid-up capital airlines, planning to launch direct flights on Kathmandu-Lasha and Kathmandu-Chengdu route with Airbus-319 and Airbus-320 in the first phase, is planning to fly to major cities in China and New Delhi soon.

Himalayan Airlines – claimed to be the largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the aviation sector in Nepal – has a permit to fly to 14 international destinations across the world.

HIF Aviation Investment is a company promoted by local entrepreneurs involved in finance, tourism and hydropower sectors. Likewise, Yeti World Investment is an affiliate of Yeti Airlines Group of Companies, whereas Tibet Airlines is jointly promoted by Air China and Tibet Provincial Government.

Director of HIF Aviation Company Suman Pandey, on the occasion, said that the airline will be managed by an experienced management team comprising of Nepalis and foreign experts. “Himalayan Airlines is planning to operate on Asian routes in the initial phase with a fleet of 130-seater Airbus 319-100 series aircraft,” he said, adding that the airline will have initial investment of Rs 2.43 billion ($25 million) has 49 per cent stake of Tibet Airlines while HIF Aviation Investment and Yeti World Investment will jointly own the remaining 51 per cent.

It will operate at least three aircraft in the first year, Pandey said, “In the second year, it plans to expand the fleet to a minimum of five aircraft.”

The airlines is also planning to start long-haul flights on Nepal-US and Nepal Australia route in next three years. “For long-haul flights, the airline plans to acquire Airbus 330 or Boeing 777,” he added, claiming to increase its total investment to more than $1 billion by the end of the fifth year.

An indigenous international airline is expected to help bring about exponential growth in air passenger traffic thereby making significant contribution to overall tourism and economic growth.

Yeti Air International – a subsidiary of Yeti Airlines Group – has dissolved its earlier joint venture with Air Arabia and entered into new collaboration pact with Himalaya Infrastructure Fund (HIF) Aviation Investment Company to bring in Tibet Airlines and start Himalayan Airlines.

Yeti Air International – now Himalaya Airlines – has been issued a category B licence that allows it to operate flights of up to 180-minute duration. It can upgrade its licence to category A, if it acquires wide body aircraft in future.

On the occasion, Chinese ambassador to Nepal Wu Chuntai said that the joint venture agreement marks the business-to-business cooperation between Nepal and China. “It would further strengthen economic ties between the two countries,” he said, adding that Tibetan Airlines investment is the biggest ever investment in the aviation sector of Nepal.
Himalayan Airlines has applied for an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) to Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation that is evaluating application.

Low-cost international carrier FlyYeti.com was launched on January 20, 2008 in a joint venture with Air Arabia. But FlyYeti.com but was forced to shut down operations after six months as its partner took back its two Airbus A320 aircraft without notice.

FlyYeti.com had been searching for a new partner since 2008, July.

Earlier, Necon Air, Cosmic Air, Air Nepal International and BB Airways – all defunct now – had started international services but failed to continue their operations.

Currently, only Buddha Air is the private airline operating international flights.