Friday, April 13, 2012

Turkish Airline plans direct flights to Kathmandu

Turkish Airlines has failed to operate direct flights to Kathmandu due to the lack of the fifth freedom right between Nepal and Turkey.

The airlines is planning to operate its Istanbul–Kathmandu direct flight in the near future. However, the operation of the flights has not yet been decided. According to officials at the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, it is difficult to mention the exact time and schedule for its operation but the airlines will soon start operations in Nepal.

"The company has made plans to operate flights but at present they are not sure about the exact time," said director general of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Tri Ratna Manandhar.

"They are preparing their marketing strategies as they do not have direct flights to Kathmandu at the moment," he said, adding that Nepal and Turkey do not have the fifth freedom right which is key to start direct flights.

However, the company can have a code sharing arrangement with Qatar Airways to bring in passengers to Nepal, he said. "Either the company has to opt for code sharing with Qatar Air or has to start flights to Delhi–Mumbai to link it to Kathmandu," said Manandhar.

According to the authority, Nepal needs to review its fifth freedom right, as there are countries excluding Nepal which have already entered into sixth, seventh and eighth freedom rights.

Nepal has air service agreements (ASA) with 36 countries and 90 per cent of them have the fifth freedom right which is the right to carry passengers from one's own country to a second country and from that country to a third country. Nepal and Turkey signed an air service agreement in September 2010. The ASA allows the two countries to operate 14 flights per week between Kathmandu and Istanbul. Turkish Airlines currently flies to over 190 destinations around the world and plans to add more routes to its diverse network.

"We are trying to connect Nepal and Istanbul in the nearest future and we are moving ahead to develop a strong relation between the two countries," said Turkish ambassador to Nepal Dr Burak Akcapar here today while inaugurating the general sales agent (GSA) office in Kathmandu. Turkish Airlines is on its way to commence its operations in Nepal and it has appointed Zenith Travels as its GSA for Nepal.

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