Kathmandu, July 26
The impact of the devastating earthquake of April 25 and the recent row on free visa and ticket provision have adversely affected the flow of air passengers. The Board of Airlines Representatives in Nepal (BARN) said that international airlines have been going through a tough time due to the decline in the passenger occupancy rate.
Among the top carriers flying to and from Kathmandu, only Korean Air has maintained occupancy of 80 per cent after reducing its weekly flights from two to one. Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways have reported occupancy of approximately 75 per cent each. Qatar Airways has been able to maintain its occupancy rate by reducing the number of its weekly flights from 21 to 14 after the April earthquake. Similarly, Fly Dubai has cut its flight frequency by 36 per cent and has maintained average occupancy rate of 60 per cent.
Airlines that had already been hit by the low flow of passengers post earthquake were further affected by the protest of manpower agencies against the implementation of free visa and air ticket provision. The rule had come into effect on July 6 and manpower agencies had started their protest by halting their business. After a 31-point deal was reached on Saturday, they have now resumed business.
Due to the decline in demand, Air Arabia which was operating 23 flights a week reduced the number to 15 from July 6. BARN statistics show that Air Asia X, which operates flights on the Kuala Lumpur-Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur sector, has at present a passenger occupancy rate of below 35 per cent in its five weekly flights. Before the earthquake it used to operate seven flights a week.
Malaysian Airlines, one of the major carriers involved in providing service to Malaysia, the major labour destination for Nepali workers, has been operating service with around 55 per cent passenger occupancy rate.
According to BARN, Thai Airways, IndiGo and Dragon Air have occupancy rates of below 65 per cent, while the situation of Jet Airways and Air India is below 50 per cent. Spicejet has suspended its flights to Nepal from May 31 to September 30, 2015.
A version of this article appears in print on July 27, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.