Himalaya Airlines, a Nepal – China joint venture airline, took off to their first high altitude destination, Lhasa for a test flight on January 19, 2021. Lhasa is the religious and administrative capital of Tibet Autonomous Region, famous for its history and religious landmarks, attracting tourists from all over the world. The test flight operation is in line with company’s commercial plan to introduce scheduled flights to Lhasa during summer of 2021.
The test flight H9 961 departed from Tribhuwan International Airport at 07:17 hours (local time) and touched down at Lhasa Gonggar International Airport (LXA) at 10:46 hours (local time). The return flight H9 962, from Lhasa is scheduled to depart at 15:00 hours (local time) on the same day and expected to land in Kathmandu at 14:00 hours (local time).
Captain Hao Di, Vice President-Operations, led the test flight crew including senior level captains who would carry out three different approaches at Lhasa airport for the validation flight.
The airlines inducted a brand new narrow body A319-115 aircraft registered as H9-AJK on Mar 02, 2020 especially for high altitude operations. Configured with 120 economy and 08 business class seats the aircraft has modifications for high altitude operations & capabilities to operate trans Himalayan routes with aerodromes elevation to maximum 14,500 ft.
Mr. Zhou Enyong, President of Himalaya Airlines expressed, “Himalaya team has been meticulously working on this high altitude operation to Lhasa since last year. Today’s test flight take off, has reinforced commitment to our key guiding principles of safety, team spirit and winning spirit. I would like to congratulate our team for the successful operation of validation flight and we are grateful to receive the support of civil aviation authorities of both the countries which has enabled us to carry out this mission effortlessly.”
Mr. Vijay Shrestha, Vice President – Administration remarked, “It is indeed a pride for Himalaya, to be the first and the only foreign airline to land at Lhasa Gonggar International Airport. Complying with CAAN requirements for high altitude operations, with this test flight Himalaya shall ensure the operational viability on this sector. We feel privileged to get the opportunity to strengthen the cross-border relationship and we are confident, post pandemic, this sector will significantly boost the tourist movement between Nepal and Tibet.”
The test flight is planned for the verification of RNP-AR approaches besides the conventional approaches at Lhasa Gonggar International Airport which has elevation of 3570 m equivalent to 11711 ft.