Kathmandu, August 28
More than 90 per cent of air tickets available for Dashain have already been booked, according to domestic airline operators.
According to the operators of domestic airlines, the demand for air tickets for Dashain has gone up significantly this year following roadway obstructions and hazards due to floods and landslides.
“Considering the high demand for air travel this Dashain, we will have to close the ticket booking soon,” said Ghanashyam Acharya, spokesperson for Airline Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN). He also informed that majority of Dashain travellers this year have switched to flying over travelling via road.
Meanwhile, the unavailability of air tickets for Dashain has already started hitting Valley dwellers.
Krishna Mani Baral, a resident of Gothatar, could not book his tickets for Lukla, Solukhumbu as majority of airlines informed him that no tickets are available to Lukla before Dashain.
“Officials of both Tara Air and Summit Air said that all tickets for Lukla before Dashain have been fully booked,” Baral said.
Interestingly, Tara Air was ready to accept Baral’s air ticket booking to Lukla if he would be accompanied by a foreigner. It has to be noted that airfare for foreigners in domestic airlines is comparatively higher than for Nepali citizens.
“It’s quite obvious that the airline companies are hoarding air tickets,” Baral alleged.
Officials at Tara Air refused to comment on the issue.
However, Acharya of AOAN claimed that airlines have been increasing the number of flights to popular destinations like Biratnagar and Bharatpur, among others, to address the increasing demand of air tickets for Dashain.
Mukesh Khanal, marketing chief of Saurya Airlines, said that the company has been increasing regular flights to destinations like Dhangadi from September 1 to address the demand.
“We are increasing the number of regular flights to popular destinations to cater to the demand,” said Khanal.
Meanwhile, Rupesh Joshi, marketing director of Yeti Airlines, said that though the demand for air tickets has gone up in recent days, majority of the company’s air tickets for Dashain are yet to be booked.
Airline operators have also said that government should ensure fuel refilling facilities in all the airports of the country to ensure availability of air tickets in peak seasons as space worth five to six seats in aircraft is occupied by fuel, which an aircraft is forced to carry due to lack of refilling facilities in all airports.
As per government’s estimation, more than one million people will leave the Kathmandu Valley for their hometown this Dashain.
A version of this article appears in print on August 29, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.