KATHMANDU: The Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has done satisfactory business in the international flight sector despite the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic.
The national flag carrier occupied 25% share in the international destinations in 2020. Since a limited number of international flights were operated during the pandemic, the NAC saw an increase in its trade in the international flights from 17.80% in 2019 to 25% in 2020, said NAC’s Corporate Director Archana Khadka.
NAC had recorded a satisfactory trade share in 2019 too, said Khadka. Similarly, in 2018, the trade share was recorded at 11.3% and 9.70% in 2017.
In 2016, NAC occupied 10.90% trade share while the trade share in 2015 stood at 7.90%.
Towards the international flights, the NAC has presently two wide-body and two narrow-body aircraft to cover nine destinations including three in India. It has been operating flights to New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore (India), Narita (Japan), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Hong Kong, Bangkok (Thailand), Doha (Qatar) and Dubai (UAE).
A total of 30 airlines companies including three domestic ones provide international flights from Nepal.
NAC executive chair Yubaraj Adhikari said the NAC has proceeded towards the effective handling of available aircraft and procuring the new ones as it intends to expand its service in international destinations.
Before the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic, it was working on a proposal to include South Korea and China in its list of foreign destinations, but the scheme remains immaterialised due to the crisis.
Future plan incorporates Sydney to London
The NAC has set a plan of procuring 14 more aircraft for international flight service within the next six years. It targets to get six wide-body and eight narrow-body aeroplanes by 2027. The drafting of the five-year plan for the procurement of aircraft is in progress, according to him.
The NAC is preparing an action plan to operate international flights to London, Sydney or Tokyo, Kolkata, Guangzhou, Colombo, Shanghai, Inchon, Ahmadabad, Riyadh, Indonesia and Frankfurt within six years.
It has also made a final preparation to operate flights to Riyadh of Saudi Arabia twice a week immediately. The NAC has increased its flights to Dubai as well as made a plan to operate flights to three destinations of India.
The NAC has now been operating flights only to New Delhi due to Covid 19 pandemic. It will soon operate flights to Bangalore and Mumbai, according to NAC. The NAC has demanded Rs 15 billion with the government to purchase aircraft in order to operate flights to both domestic and international destinations.
The NAC has lost Rs 9 billion in income in around 20 months due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
NAC’s domestic business shrinks
The NAC’s business in the domestic sector has however shrunken. In that year, it has only carried out only 2% business in that year. The NAC management said they could not expand the trade towards the domestic sector due to the shortage of planes. It only has two Twin Otter aeroplanes towards the domestic sector which have been flying to 17 various destinations within the country.
It has been operating flights from Kathmandu to Taplejung, Bhojpur, Thamkharka, Lukla, Khanidanda, Phaplu and Dang, and from Nepalgunj to Bajura, Simkot, Jumla, Rukum, Talcha, Bjhang, Sanfebagar and Doti in the western sector.
NAC has requested the government for purchasing additional 18 aircraft for operating in the domestic sector. It has made preparation for presenting an action plan to the Ministry for the purchase of eight aircraft for operating flights to the mountainous region and 10 aeroplanes for the urban sector.
Around 300 flights are operating towards the domestic sector from the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). The NAC which has a history of 63 years has not been able to compete with other airlines as it has only a limited number of planes at present. It has 1,369 employees including permanent, temporary and other staff.