Friday, 24 May, 2024

Airlines fail to face Dashain rush


By CK Khanal

Kathmandu, Oct. 2: Owing to the increasing trend of travelling via air, the aviation sector faced shortage of aircraft to manage the increasing demand of air tickets during this Dashain festival.
Currently, seven private airlines and national flag carrier-Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) are providing air services by their fixed wing aircraft while there are 10 helicopter companies providing air services in domestic routes.
According to Airlines Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN), 40 fixed wing aircraft of the private companies and 32 helicopters are in operation. Similarly, three aircraft of NAC are also in operation.
Yub Raj Kandel Sharma, spokesperson of AOAN, said that they were facing excessive pressure of aviation passengers seeking to go to their home districts from Kathmandu to celebrate Dashain festival with their family members.
He said that they had been unable to provide air tickets as per the demand even after increasing the number of flights by 50 per cent for Dashain.
He said that there is excessive pressure of air tickets for the Bhadrapur, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj routes.
Kandel said that the trend of travelling via air had increased in recent years which is reflected in Dashain festival.
Many people seeking air tickets to go to their home have compelled to choose other alternatives due to unavailability of air tickets.
Kandel said that the aviation sector faced sudden increase in the demand of air tickets after the Prithvi Highway, the major exit route of Kathmandu, started witnessing hours-long jam on the eve of Dashain festival.
“Previously, we used to manage 25 to 30 per cent additional flights in major routes especially for Dashain festival as per our projection of increase in the demand during the festival, but the demand suddenly soared after the Prithvi Highway saw hours’ long traffic jam last week,” he said.
“After the increase in demand we have managed additional 20 per cent flight tickets, but they finished in two days,” Kandel said.
“This is the optimum capacity of available aircraft with the private sector and we cannot add more flights for Dashain from our available fleet,” he said.
Ganesh Bahadur Chand, spokesperson of NAC, said that they had only three aircraft in operation currently for domestic flights and had not been able to provide tickets as per the demand.
Out of six Chinese planes of the NAC four are grounded, and of the three twin Otters only one is in operation, Chand said. “We have been unable to make the grounded plane operational due to delay in bringing spare parts,” Chand said.
Trilochan Poudel, spokesperson of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), informed that around 136 flights of fixed wing aircraft having 4,300 seats and 44 flights of helicopters having capacity to carry 550 passengers are in the daily operation from domestic terminal of Tribhuvan International Airport.