Sangam Prasain, Kathmandu Post |
Kathmandu – Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is likely to travel on a specially-reserved Himalaya Airlines jet to China on Sunday.
Leading a team of around 50 members, PM Oli is visiting China at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) to make necessary arrangements at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) for the VVIP flight.
According to Caan officials, Himalaya will be issued a flight permission on the China route on Friday. “We have received necessary documents regarding Himalaya’s special chartered flight request, and are acting accordingly,” said a Caan official.
As per the travel schedule forwarded by the Foreign Ministry to Caan, the Prime Minister’s special flight will take off to Beijing on Sunday at 11:00 am from TIA. The return flight is on March 25, which will depart from Chengdu at 4:00 pm.
Sources said Himalaya asked for the special flight permission with Caan after the Prime Minister expressed his interest to fly on the airline’s brand new Airbus A320 aircraft, which it acquired on March 9.
Salina Nakarmi, brand officer at Himalaya Airlines, said they were yet to confirm the Prime Minister’s travel details.
Himalaya Airlines is a Nepal-China joint-venture company. Himalayan Infrastructure Fund Aviation Investment and Yeti World Investment hold a 51 percent stake in the company, while Tibet Airlines owns 49 percent.
The company has a paid-up capital of $25 million. It is the biggest foreign direct investment from China in Nepal’s aviation sector.
In Beijing, PM Oli will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li and Vice President Li Yenchon on March 21. After his official visit to Beijing, Oli will leave for Hainan Province to participate in the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia. He will also address the ceremony.
The Cabinet is yet to finalise the delegation, but officials said at least four ministers, half dozen government secretaries, lawmakers from major political parties, senior government officials, journalists and businesspersons are expected to accompany PM Oli to China.
The Nepali side is looking forward to signing Transit and Transportation Agreement with China to use its sea port and government-to-government (G2G) and business-to-business (B2B) deals to pave the way for private players to import fuel from the northern neighbour.
The Nepali side is also planning to seek Chinese assistance for the construction of at least three petroleum depots in Pachkhal (Kavre), Battar (Nuwakot) and Khairani (Tanahun).
Other agendas include seeking Chinese grant and soft loans for developing reservoir-type Budhi Gandaki, Kimathanka-Arun and Sunkoshi Third hydropower projects.
Similarly, expediting loan agreement for the construction of a regional airport in Pokhara, opening up more trade routes, establishing one Nepali cultural centre in Beijing, upgradation, expansion of Kodari Highway and Kathmandu-Kerung highway, feasibility study of Kathmandu-Pokhara rail service and studying feasibility of mono rail in Kathmandu are also high on the agenda.