A tale of two transports


After about nearly six months, the government allowed the resumption of long-distance public vehicles and domestic flights from September 17 and 21, respectively. And since these services have resumed, airline operators are in a rush to carry air travellers while long-distance public vehicles are still waiting for passengers.

The domestic airline companies are currently operating flights with almost 90 to 95 per cent occupancy. They have even started taking bookings for the festive season.

“Even though there is still an uncertainty regarding another lockdown or other restrictions among passengers, the bookings for the festive season are very satisfying,” said Anil Manandhar, corporate manager of Shree Airlines. Among the nine destinations, Shree Airlines is currently operating flights to Nepalgunj and Dhangadi only.

“In the initial phase we decided to operate flights to only a limited number of destinations and we will decide on the other destinations after looking at the passenger flow,” he said. “As we are getting good flow of passengers and bookings, we are preparing to release our schedule for other destinations after October 1,” he added.

The government has set a specific schedule for domestic destinations as per the need of airline operators for the first nine days since the resumption of flight operations.

Meanwhile, Buddha Air has been operating 17 flights a day and all the flights have had 95 per cent occupancy, said Binita Thapa, marketing manager of the company.

“Seat occupancy in all destinations has been very satisfying in the last four days,” she said, adding, “We have also started accepting booking for the festive season to all our destinations.”

“In fact, all flights to Tumlingtar for the festive season have already been fully booked,” said Thapa. At present, Buddha Air is flying to 13 destinations.

Similarly, Yeti Airlines has also been operating 10 flights a day to all of its 11 destinations with 90 per cent occupancy. According to the company, bookings for Dashain have started and there has been good response.

In the meantime, Nepal Airlines Corporation is currently operating flights to nine destinations with around 85 per cent to 90 per cent occupancy.

Meanwhile, though airline companies are getting satisfying numbers of passengers, the scenario is just the opposite for the long-distance vehicle owners. Soon after long-distance vehicles resumed services, the adverse weather damaged the highways in various places due to which they could not operate vehicles.

“The reason why we are not getting enough number of passengers is not only due to the bad weather and damaged roads but also because of the perception of people.

It seems like people are afraid of travelling by road due to the fear of contracting the COVID-19 infection,” said Yogendra Karmacharya, president of Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs. “The number of passengers leaving or coming to Kathmandu is very low,” he added.

He further said that the long-distance vehicle owners do not have any plan of opening advance ticket bookings for the festival season at the moment. “Looking at the flow of passengers I don’t think there is any need for advance bookings.

This year, many people might not travel like in the previous years,” he added.

Last year, around two million people had travelled to their hometowns from Kathmandu during the festive season.