Newly-launched Himalaya Airlines, a China-Nepal joint venture company, made its maiden commercial flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka on Tuesday, re-establishing Nepal’s direct air link with Sri Lanka after more than three decades.
Nepal’s national flag carrier, Nepal Airlines, operated direct flights to Colombo during the 1980s. But the carrier suspended its operations following the armed rebellion by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the island nation.
Since then, direct air links have been cut between the two countries.
A chartered flight of Himalaya Airlines took off from the Tribhuvan International Airport at 9:05 a.m. local time on Tuesday.
Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Wu Chuntai, Sri Lankan Ambassador to Nepal W.M. Senevirathna and Cheng Yiru, chairman of Tibet Airlines, jointly launched the flight to Sri Lanka, a press release of the Himalaya Airlines said.
Tibet Airlines holds 48.99 percent of equity capital of the company, whereas the Nepali side holds 51.01 percent.
Vijay Shrestha, vice-president of the Hiamalaya Airlines, said, “We are glad to offer the promotional offer to our passengers, on the occasion of the Nepali New Year, for them to celebrate the eve in Colombo. We are very thankful to our travel agencies for promoting the offer and getting us passengers at a very short notice.”
Sri Lanka is the fourth largest tourist source market for Nepal after India, China and the United States.
A total of 37,546 Sri Lankans visited Nepal in 2014.