The recent trend of arrival of tourists has showed that a strong national flag carrier is the need of the hour to bring 2 million tourists within the next five years in Nepal.
With a million tourists arriving in Nepal in 2017, Nepal Airlines Corporation has played a crucial role. NAC has been flying to various international destinations with an average seat occupancy of 77.6 per cent.
Commenting on rumors about Nepal Airlines, Managing Director Sugat Ratna Kansakar wrote on his Facebook wall that every international flight of Nepal Airlines has the optimum number of passengers.
“The average seat occupancy of nearly 80 per cent in every international flight is noteworthy. The seat occupancy is bound to increase in the future with the boost in the country’s tourism industry,” said Kansakar.
Currently, Nepal Airlines is operating international flights to eight destinations with three aircraft — one Boeing 757-200 and two narrow-body Airbus planes. At present, Nepal Airlines has scheduled flights to New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Doha and Dubai from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Kathmandu.
According to statistics maintained by the national flag carrier, Nepal Airlines’ average seat occupancy in the last six months to Doha and Hong Kong stood at 85.8 per cent and 78.05 per cent, respectively. Similarly, Nepal Airlines flew to Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi with average seat occupancy of 75.77 per cent and 80.13 per cent, respectively in the last six months.
Similarly, NAC’s data show that its flights to Mumbai and Dubai recorded average seat occupancy of 65.48 per cent and 76.4 per cent, respectively over the last six months. Likewise, Nepal Airlines has been flying to Bangalore and Bangkok with average seat occupancy of 80 per cent each.
However, Kansakar informed that Nepal Airlines’ seat occupancy has been affected time and again due to unhealthy competition in airfare among other airlines.
After taking the management, Kansakar also said that Nepal Airlines will gradually promote itself as the best airline among air travellers by diversifying its services. Though NAC has limited aircraft for international flights, it is in the process of adding two wide-body aircraft to its fleet soon.
“Once these new wide-body aircraft are added to its fleet, NAC plans to conduct direct flights to Saudi Arabia, Korea and Japan,” said Kansakar.
To improve its performance, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) is preparing to hand over the overall maintenance responsibility of its two new Airbus A330-200 series aircraft, which are expected to join its fleet within few months, to London-based engine manufacturing company Rolls-Royce.
For the first time in its history, NAC has decided to sign TotalCare package with for engine of the two wide-body aircraft.
"NAC is in the process of signing Total Care agreement with Rolls-Royce that offers life cycle management of air engine,” said Kansakar.
Since the TotalCare package can be received from engine manufacturers only, NAC initiated the process to procure engine overall management service from Rolls-Royce.
According to NAC, around 95 percent of the airline companies across the world buy similar package for engine maintenance. Under the package, the company has to take all the responsibilities of engine maintenance if any malfunction occurs. The company will also have to manage spare engine to operate the aircraft while the malfunctioned engine is repaired. If the company fails to maintain engine within seven to 10 days, it will have to pay compensation to the airline company.
"TotalCare package covers all types of scheduled/non-scheduled and planned/unplanned repair and refurbishments including all AOG (Aircraft on Ground) situations like bird hits and other problems," said Kansakar.
Earlier on December 26, an Airbus A320-200 aircraft of the national flag was grounded in New Delhi due to engine malfunction. It took almost a month to repair that engine, Kansakar reminded of the incident during a press meet organized in Kathmandu.
The cost of Total Care package is Rs 60 million per month. Kansakar also added that the national flag carrier was adding six Twin Otter aircraft in its fleet in the near future. "Within 12 to 18 months, we will bring all our new aircraft into full-fledged operation," he said, adding: "After that, we will add new aircraft in every two to four years."
The first of the two wide-body aircraft will join the NAC's fleet in June. The national flag carrier earned a net profit of Rs 75 million in 2017. It enjoys 10 percent share in the country's aviation market, according to NAC.
"Once the two wide-body aircraft are pressed into operation, our market share is expected to reach 16/17 percent," said Kansakar.