28 September, Kathmandu. The tenth best business opportunity for an airline. The business of the national flag carrier Nepal Airlines Corporation (Nepal Airlines) is sluggish while the business of private sector airlines is in its infancy. In other words the corporation has its presence in domestic flights only. Because the corporation does not have the necessary ships for flights and the existing ships do not have efficient management, it appears that the corporation’s ships are traded only by private sun-warmers.
Reflecting this situation, the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Prem Ale had announced to make Nepal Airlines Corporation strong and effective. On 7 September, when he took charge of the ministry at Singha’s court, Minister Ale was saying, ‘The airline corporation ships are drying in the sun. Drying the ship in the sun does not make money. It is important for people to trust private airlines, but find a solution to why they distrust government airlines.
Minister Ale said that airports will be built in all the hill districts of the country at a cost of Rs 100 to 15 crores.
According to the Tourism Minister, this is also an important opportunity to earn income from domestic flights. Festivals like Dashain, Tihar and Chhath are packed with travelers on domestic flights along with suitable weather for trekking and tourism. The airline business has grown. More than 70 percent of Dashain tickets have been booked.
Now it is difficult for the general public to get seats in the normal way. Passengers get air tickets only through the source force. As the demand for domestic air travelers rises, the government-invested airline corporation is left helpless. The privately owned company has become like Ramite.
Ironically, the airline now has only two ships with a capacity of 18 seats. They also go bad from time to time. The corporation has two smaller and four seater Y12 ships in the process of sale. The ships are docked at the airport.
The corporation is operating small ships from capital Kathmandu to Lamidanda and Thamkharka airports in the eastern hill districts of Taplejung, Bhojpur and Khotang, while it is flying to western hill districts including Simikot, Bajura and Humla.
At the same time, the demand for air tickets of the corporation was increasing and getting tickets on the tenth day has become even more difficult. The corporation is in shock due to shortage of ships and increasing demand for passengers. A minister, MP and a senior police officer said that the general public cannot board the corporation’s ship.
The top officials of the corporation have to face a lot of pressure from the top level for the ticket of the corporation. According to a high-ranking officer of the corporation, the general public does not get tickets on the 10th.
After all, no less painful is the begging for tickets by more than a dozen passengers arriving at destinations in the Eastern Hills. The corporation has not been able to meet the demand of passengers without ships.
The corporation is making a living by international flights and ground handling at Tribhuvan International Airport. Ground handling service is provided to the corporation. The corporation, which has a financial debt of around Rs 50 billion, has two narrow-body A320s and two wide-body A330s for international flights. Even these ships have not been able to reach some destinations due to the COVID pandemic.
According to an official, the corporation has around 20 per cent business share in the international aviation sector. Currently, the corporation operates only on international flights. There is only internal appearance.
Corporation’s general manager Dimpprakash Poudel said that the corporation’s flight could not be expanded despite increased demand for passengers due to shortage of ships. He said that if the corporation has to operate effectively then there is no option to expand the destination by adding ships immediately.
He said, “The corporation is providing small domestic ships to airports in the Himalayas and hilly regions. There are only two small ships. How to provide services, so more ships should be added immediately.”
According to General Manager Poudel, a total of eight ships will have to be added for domestic flights, four for the Himalayan region and four for the Terai region. Similarly, at least four green large ships need to be added on the international side.
The movement of the Employees’ Trade Unions in the Corporation for the last 104 days, which is still in trouble, further troubled the Corporation. Due to the long-standing agitation, important work activities affecting the business of the corporation have been affected.
The employees of the corporation are holding dharna and other programs in the central office of the corporation since July 3, because the process of taking the corporation on the company model has been taken forward. The movement has been suspended since 10 September at the initiative of Tourism Minister Ale.
Growing business of private airlines
It is difficult for private airlines to meet the demand of passengers at this time. Business is booming with the tenth and Tihar and Chhath festivals. Major airlines have more than 70 per cent bookings for class X. Buddha, Yeti and Saurya Airlines have said that some flight numbers will be added for the tenth time.
In the clear season of autumn, travelers also look forward to a comfortable and smooth journey by seeing the views of Himal Dandpakheda. Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines, Saurya Air, Guna Airlines including tens of others are providing services as per the demand of passengers by increasing the number of regular flights for business.
Buddha Air operates more than 140 flights daily. It is serving more than 8,000 passengers daily through a total of 15 ships including two small ships and 13 ATRs. Yeti Airlines currently flies to eight different destinations with five ATR-72 aircraft.
Shree Airlines is also operating flights through its six aircraft. Gun Airlines is flying five ships. Nineteen airlines are flying domestically without 10 helicopters, while 30 airlines, including three Nepali ones, are flying internationally.