Stakeholders worried as 5 international airlines cut Nepal flights in a year

An aircraft of Gulf Air.
An aircraft of Gulf Air.

KATHMANDU, Nepal- Five international airlines companies that were spreading their wings up to Nepal have cut all flights closing the Nepal service in one year. Government and the tourism stake holders are worried with the flights closure as this may hamper their plan to bring 1.2 million tourists this fiscal year.

There were altogether 32 international airlines flying to Nepal from various destinations around the globe but the number have down to 27 this year.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, Kingfisher, Gulf, Jet Light, BB Airways and GMG were the international airlines those close Nepal flights at different dates last year.

Among the airlines, the India base Kingfisher had closed its flights to Nepal after the airlines turned insolvent.  While the Gulf Air cut all its Nepal flights, BB Airways, an airlines operated by non-resident Nepalis stopped its flights sometime after it began flights to Malaysia from Kathmandu. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal had already cancelled the flight authority of the airlines.

After the Jet Light merged with Jet Airways the numbers of airlines operating here have gone down with yet another one. Likewise, Bangladesh based GMG airlines had also cancelled its Nepal flights owing few number of passengers.

With the number of Nepali migrant workers aimed at Malaysia and Gulf estates, airlines from those regions have added the flights while others have cut the flight number or cancelled all flights, last year.

According to the ministry, during 2011/12 three international airlines Malaysia airlines and Air Asia from Malaysia and RAK Airways have started their Nepal flights.  Turkish Airlines have also received an flight authorization from this fiscal while Australian Airlines have approached the ministry to launch direct airlines from Kathmandu to Sydney.

According to Madhusudan Pyakurel, a travel and tour entrepreneur, airlines operating on working destinations are adding up their flight numbers and new airlines are also showing their interest. But as the tourism sector in seasonal, airlines focusing them are in peril. “Since the services targeting the  tourism sector are seasonal, it is difficult for them to sustain,” he said.

Tourism entrepreneurs said the trend of downfall in tourist arrivals that saw encouraging rise during tourism year may have impact on international flights. The downfall has also hampered hotel business with their occupancy rate also decreasing.

Under its Annual Development Plan 2013-14, the government has envisaged attracting 1.2 million tourists this fiscal year which is 50 percent higher than the annual tourist arrivals last fiscal 2012-13.

The plan has targeted increasing the average length of stay of tourists to 13 days from 12.87 days recorded last fiscal year. The annual development plan has targeted to increase jobs in the travel and tourism sector to 175,000 from last year’s 160,000.

It also aims to increase per day spending of tourists to $45 this fiscal year from last year’s $34.93 and increase international airlines’ connectivity to Nepal to 35.


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