Airlines reeling under Dashain rush

Kathmandu, October 8:

The private domestic airlines are currently facing a crisis as they are unable to cope with the rise in the demand of air seats, thanks to the upcoming Dashain festival, which is a time when quite a lot of people travel to various destinations inside the country.

“Flights are over-booked. Even if we put eight to ten extra flights per week, it will not be enough to cope with the demand,” Thakur Lamichane, Manager, Sales and Marketing, Gorkha Airlines, told this daily.

However, the airlines are not in a position to increase the number of domestic flights immediately. “We are not in a position to increase the number of flights. That is beyond the airline’s capacity at present,” Lamichane added. Pradeep Bikram Shah, Sales Director of Yeti Airlines too is of the same opinion. “We are trying to have more flights as per the requirement, but the demand is very high and the seats are not available,” Shah said, adding, “No airline would want to keep aircrafts idle, so we are doing our best.”

The airlines are particularly having problems with passengers wanting to fly from Kathmandu to Biratnagar, Bhadrapur, Lamidanda, Janakpur and Tumlingtar.

“The rush is mainly on Bhadrapur route as the demand is both ways. We have added 21 flights per week on this route,” Binita Thapa, Sales Officer of Buddha Air told THT.

“There is no official record of inquiry and people waiting for seats with us, but we are getting just too many phone calls,” she added.

At present, six airlines — Nepal Airlines Corporation, Yeti, Gorkha, Buddha, Sita and Agni — are catering to domestic sector and are flying to 36 destinations.

The other airlines — Cosmic, Shangrila, Skyline and Dragon Airlines — are currently not in operation. According to Nepal Tourism Statistic Report, 2005, the total movement of passengers is estimated to be 2.4 million in a year.