Kathmandu, August 20
Executive Director of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), Madan Kharel, has said that there is no point in criticising the national flag carrier for low occupancy in Osaka flights as no airline company receives full-seat occupancy in its first flight.
Speaking at a press meet organised today regarding NAC’s planned Osaka flights, Kharel said there is a very rare record of any airline company that has received full occupancy in its first flight to any destination.
“As we are in the initial phase, it is difficult for us to get the desired number of passengers,” he said. “However, till date we have received around 90 ticket bookings for our first flight and this time the flight will take-off on the decided date — August 29.”
Kharel, however, said that the seat occupancy is likely to improve from October. “Within one year of the flight operation, I assure you that the flight occupancy will be more than 80 per cent per flight,” he added.
NAC plans to operate Osaka flights three days a week — Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. It takes around six-and-a-half hours to reach Osaka from Kathmandu.
NAC had initially planned to operate Osaka flights from July 14. However, the commencement date was postponed to August due to poor response from passengers.
Stating that flow of passengers is low till July-end, NAC decided to initiate the flights in August. As a promotional scheme, passengers flying to Japan can buy one-way ticket at Rs 36,999, while the fare for round-trip passengers has been set at Rs 72,814, including value added tax.
Earlier, NAC had operated commercial flights in the Kathmandu-Osaka route twice a week in between 1994 and 2007. However, due to lack of aircraft and human resources, it had halted the service. Even in those days NAC used to suspend flights to Japan during monsoon when passenger flow declines.
The targeted passengers of NAC in Kathmandu-Osaka sector are Nepali students studying in Japan and Japanese tourists travelling to Nepal. On being questioned about the delay in starting flights to China, Kharel clarified that the flight operation was not delayed due to NAC but due to the fact that the Chinese government wants to first conduct a safety audit before allowing the corporation to start operation of the said flight.
A version of this article appears in print on August 21, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.