Himalaya Airlines expanding routes with Belt and Road

An airline company set up by China and Nepal four years ago under the Belt and Road initiative provides employment opportunities and cultivates aviation professionals, the airline's chief told Chinese media Sunday.

Himalaya Airlines has grown to become the second carrier in Nepal and generates an annual revenue of $10.5 million for the Nepal government, Zhao Guoqiang, company president, told the China News Service on Sunday.

"It provides employment opportunities for Nepalese and cultivates aviation professionals," Zhao reportedly said.

Founded in 2014 by China's Tibet Airlines and Nepalese investors, today the airline has nearly 360 employees, of whom 85 percent are Nepalese, Zhao Guoqiang said.

The airline has helped implement the Belt and Road initiative in Nepal and the whole of South Asia, he said.

Nepal's tourism ministry hopes to designate seven weekly flights for Himalaya Airlines on the Kathmandu-Shanghai route as a boost for Chinese arrivals to Nepal, the Kathmandu Post reported in March.

Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said cooperation in civil aviation was "sensitive."

"It involves the countries' sovereignties," Zhao Gancheng told the Global Times on Tuesday. "The joint venture's plan to open more routes between China and Nepal will encourage more Chinese tourists to travel in Nepal, whose tourism industry is an important growth point of the economy."

The airline is working on routes from Nepal to Chinese cities such as Beijing and Changsha in Central China's Hunan Province, Zhao Guoqiang said.

A route from Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, to Lhasa, Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, is also planned.

"The flight between Kathmandu and Lhasa, will help promote the economic development of Tibet and also friendly interactions in the region," Zhao Gancheng said.

Zhao Guoqiang also said that more international airlines will be opened.

Editor: Dong Ping
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