Sky’s the limit

The country has been facing an acute shortage of international air seats ever since the Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) suspended all its international flights for 10 days beginning August 1. Though NAC has since resumed its flights, things have not improved. This, despite 109 international flights a week and accumulated capacity of 1.2 million air passengers per annum. The shortage has been glaring as even the students who have obtained student visas to study abroad are struggling to get tickets.

But even more conspicuous has been the government’s failure to anticipate such a scenario. NAC had been swimming in troubled waters for such a long time that it was only a matter of time before its remaining aeroplanes were grounded. And it was commonsense that there would be a considerable hike in the number of tourists visiting Nepal during the peak season. The sad fact is that while NAC fails to put its house in order, other international airlines are bound by their respective Air Service Agreements (ASI) with Nepal and hence are unable to adjust seat numbers as per the demand. The result: Nepal is losing out on countless foreign tourists, many Nepali passengers have been left stranded and the country’s flag carrier is missing out on its share of the spoils during the peak season. In this context, the government should consider more flexible ASI agreements with foreign airlines operating on high-demand routes so that the number of flights can be adjusted as per the demand.