Nepal Airlines takes second place in massive turnaround

Oct 19, 2016- Nepal Airlines moved up to the second spot in international passenger carriage, marking a massive turnaround after years in the wilderness. The venerable national flag carrier flew 178,799 passengers in the first six months of 2016, nearly double the figure of the first half of last year.

According to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Nepal Airlines saw its passenger traffic swell by a robust 90 percent during the period January-June to take second place after Qatar Airways.

Nepal Airlines began flying high after inducting two new Airbus A320 aircraft into its fleet last year. It resumed flights to Dubai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi soon after acquiring the new jets, and now serves eight international destinations.

After flying blind for many years due to political interference and inefficient management, Nepal Airlines has got its act together remarkably well, and has been able to boost its market share on international routes to 10.76 percent. The carrier plans to begin services to Guangzhou, the third largest city in south central China, by the end of this year. Meanwhile, international airline passenger traffic through TIA dropped 3.14 percent in the first six months of 2016. According to TIA, the 27 international airlines serving Kathmandu flew 1.66 million passengers between January and June this year.

The negative passenger growth has been attributed to the April earthquake and fuel crisis caused by an economic blockade by India, forcing almost all international carriers to cut their Nepal services until last September.

“Definitely, the negative growth can be attributed to last year’s disaster. But airlines have returned to their normal flight schedules since September,” said Santanu Sen Gupta, chairman of the Airline Operator’s Committee-Nepal. “Moreover, the drop in passenger traffic can be blamed on the free-visa, free-ticket scheme announced by the government for the Gulf countries and Malaysia in June last year, which led to recruitment companies stopping sending migrant workers to employment destinations,” he said. Meanwhile, aircraft movement dropped 12.60 percent to 12,489 flights during the review period, according to TIA. The stats show that that country’s sole international airport handled 70 international flight movements daily.

A breakdown by airline shows that Doha-based Qatar Airways topped the list of carriers with the highest number of passengers. It flew 187,660 passengers, up 11.22 percent year on year.

After Nepal Airlines, low-cost carriers Air Arabia stood third with a passenger carriage growth of 14.89 percent. It flew 166,106 passengers during the review period.

India’s Jet Airways slipped to fourth place with a 15.78 percent drop in passenger carriage to 154,119 in the first six months of 2016. Jet had reduced its flight frequency to Nepal from five daily flights to three in August last year.

It has been operating three daily flights on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector and two daily flights on the Kathmandu-Mumbai sector from October.

Fly Dubai and Oman Air saw their passenger numbers increase 9.49 percent to 144,087 and 29.63 percent to 92,049 respectively.

Air India saw its passenger numbers drop 24.53 percent to 90,205. Malaysian-based low-cost carrier Air Asia X also saw a negative passenger growth. It flew 87,964 passengers in the first six months of 2016, down 6.61 percent.

Malaysia’s national flag carrier Malaysia Airlines saw a significant drop in

passenger numbers. It flew 45,250 passengers, down 48.67 percent.

Meanwhile, Thai Airways saw its passenger numbers rise 20.49 percent to 80,520 in the review period. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways flew 80,520 travellers, down 2.37 percent.

Start-up Nepali carrier Himalaya Airlines carried 2,124 passengers in the first six months of this year.

Chinese carriers Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Sichuan Air saw their passenger carriage drop notably by 55.80 percent. They flew a total of 56,774 travellers during the review period.

Likewise, Turkish Airlines saw its passenger numbers drop by a whopping 35.13 percent to 38,443 during the first half of this year.

News Source: The Kathmandu Post

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