Francisco Hernan Castillo Tamayo, a seasoned Mexican captain with Himalaya Airlines, finds himself amidst a thriving aviation activity as the flight routes connecting Kathmandu, Nepal, to the Chinese cities of Beijing and Kunming witness a remarkable comeback in the post-pandemic era.
The bustling summer travel rush has contributed to Beijing Daxing International Airport solidifying its position as China’s “new gateway.” The airport has experienced an unprecedented surge in flight and passenger numbers, resuming international passenger flights on January 17 this year, following the earlier resumption of international cargo flights in 2022. This development has offered a glimmer of hope to aviation industry players worldwide.
For Tamayo, being part of the crew on the day flights resumed was profoundly encouraging. He shares, “It was a really motivating moment to be there. Gradually we are increasing our frequencies to Beijing. So we are a lot busier than before.”
Tamayo’s first encounter with China was in 2008 when he visited multiple cities that left an indelible mark of admiration for Chinese culture and cuisine. In 2017, he joined Himalaya Airlines, a joint venture between China and Nepal, and in October 2019, witnessed the inauguration of direct flights from Beijing to Kathmandu.
Despite the long shadow cast by the COVID-19 pandemic over the global aviation industry, Tamayo remains optimistic about China’s aviation, economy, and tourism. The gradual resumption and expansion of international flights in China have bolstered his confidence in the nation’s ability to rebound robustly.
Nowadays, Tamayo shuttles between the ancient capitals of China and Nepal, reveling in the cultural tapestry they offer. On one trip to Beijing, he was taken aback by the White Pagoda Temple, not just because of its over 700 years of history but also because it was designed and constructed by a Nepalese craftsman.
He firmly believes that the most charming aspect of Beijing and Kathmandu lies in their long-standing culture, and an increase in tourist traffic between the two places will foster mutual communication and cooperation.
As a strategic node on the Belt and Road, Nepal has benefited from the initiative, going beyond infrastructure projects to embrace job opportunities and new technology accompanying Chinese investments, according to Tamayo.
The future for Himalaya Airlines looks promising, as it has already reinstated direct flights from Beijing and Kunming to Kathmandu, with plans to establish additional direct connections from various Chinese cities to the Nepalese capital.
With a wealth of flight experience, Tamayo feels privileged to provide more efficient and convenient “air express” services for China and Nepal while maintaining confidence in China as a fiercely competitive market.
According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the country’s civil aviation industry is on track to recover to 2019 levels in the first half of 2023, bringing renewed optimism to the aviation landscape.