If the recent ranking released by Tribhuwan International Airport, listing the airlines on the basis of the number of passengers they carried is any indication, it shows that Nepal Airlines has made a remarkable progress in the year.
After years of lackluster performance due to frequent political interventions and lack of aircrafts to fly the international sector, Nepal Airlines has made a drastic progress with two new Airbuses and professional and committed managing director Sugat Ranta Kanskar on the chair.
According to the data available from TIA, Nepal Airlines moved up to the second spot as the international passenger carrier in Nepal. The 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.
After Qatar Airways, Nepal Airlines saw its passenger traffic swell by a robust 90 percent during the period January-June. Just a year ago, Nepal Airlines added two new Airbus A320 in its fleet, resuming flights to Dubai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi. It serves eight international destinations now.
With the frequent political interventions and weak management for years, Nepal Airlines was virtually at the point of closure. However, the induction of two new aircrafts has changed the status.
As Nepal Airlines has already announced its schedule to purchase two wide body aircrafts, it appears set to turn into a leading airline to carry the passengers in Nepal. According to a report, Nepal Airlines has boosted its market share in international routes.
Nepal Airlines plans to begin services to Guangzhou by the end of this year. With the political turmoil and earthquakes, international airline passenger traffic through TIA dropped 3.14 percent in the first six months of 2016. The 27 international airlines serving Kathmandu flew 1.66 million passengers between January and June this year.
According to Santanu Sen Gupta, there are several reasons for the drop in the number of passengers. With the demands of Nepalese workers lessening, numbers of Nepalese working are gradually declining.
Aircraft movement dropped 12.60 percent to 12,489 flights during the review period, according to TIA. Country’s sole international airport handled 70 international flight movements daily.
According to data, 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 travelers, down 2.37 percent. Another Nepali carrier Himalaya Airlines carried 2,124 passengers in the first six months of this year.
With the fuel crisis and earthquake, Chinese carriers Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Sichuan Air faced severe situation with their passenger carriage drop notably by 55.80 percent. They carried a total of 56,774 passengers during the review period. Turkish Airlines saw its passenger numbers drop by a whopping 35.13 percent to 38,443 during the first half of this year.
Just in a matter of year, Nepal Airlines has shown that it has immense strength to prove its ability given more aircrafts in its wings and professional management to operate the airlines.