With the introduction of flights from Air Asia and MALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) on the Kathmandu-Kula Lumpur route, one more gateway to enter Nepal has been opened for the tourists. Previously there were no other international airlines companies than Nepal Airlines operating in the Kathmandu-Kula Lumpur route.
AirAsia has already started its operations while MALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) is planning to expand its network by starting thrice-weekly Kuala Lumpur-Kathmandu services from September 2012.
The initial booking for Air Asia was overwhelming and the company is planning to expand its services later, according to Hari Man Lama, general sales agent (GSA) of Air Asia in Nepal and the executive chairperson of Incentive Tours and Travel.
The introduction of flights by these Malaysian companies offers high value for the Nepalese tourism future as well as for the migrant Nepalese workers who have now other alternatives than the National Airlines.
Around 10,000 migrant workers leave for Kuala Lumpur from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) every month, according to various sources.
These budget carriers will decrease the dependency of Nepali migrant workers on the National Flag carrier—Nepal Airlines.
“Some migrant workers have been leaving for Malaysia even from alternative costlier routes in the lack of direct flights as the ability of Nepal Airlines to handle the number of people was very poor,” said an aviation expert.
“The low airfare will reduce the financial burden of Nepali migrant workers while joining Malaysian jobs,” said Hari Man Lama.
Luxury Tours Malaysia manager Ganneesh Ramaa said with two airlines operating on the route, Kuala Lumpur would become a gateway for neighboring countries without direct access to Kathmandu.
As of 2011, Indian Airlines was the biggest international airline carrier to Nepal as it flew some 48 percent of tourists visiting Nepal, according to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). And the International airlines market in Nepal is also mainly dominated by Indian airlines companies.
Air Asia will play a key role in bringing tourists from Malaysia, Singapore, China and other countries as well, according to Lama.
“Air Asia has also targeted Buddhist tourists flying to Nepal, along with the Malaysia-bound Nepali migrant workers,” added Lama.
Currently, more than 500,000 Nepalis are working in Malaysia.
There are rising interests from other international airlines companies as well. Malaysian national carrier Malaysia Airlines and Kathmandu-based BB Airways have already unveiled their plan to launch scheduled flights between Kathmandu and Kuala Lumpur from September, according to various Media reports.
Lack of direct contact with American and European nations have hindered the tourism prospects of Nepal up to a huge extent. So the rising aerial interests from international airlines companies have again shown the glimpse of tourism hope for Nepal.
Air Asia will initially fly between Kuala Lumpur and Kathmandu two times a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays and it will gradually increase the number of flights from September, according to Lama.