Airfares on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector have been slashed by more than half as airlines struggle to fill seats after the Great Earthquake of April 25 scared away potential travellers, travel agencies said.
A one-way ticket now costs Rs7,300 compared to the usual Rs15,000 during the June-August period, the lean tourist season. Most carriers flying Nepal have launched discount offers to lure passengers as occupancy has plunged below 30 percent, a leading travel agency said.
Indian carriers Jet Airways and Air India have been selling tickets for less than Rs10,000. Airlines are flying with less than 20 percent of the seats occupied on flights between Kathmandu and Delhi and other Indian cities even though one and a half months have passed since the terrible tremor.
Chinese airlines have not cut prices significantly but they have reduced their flight frequency. Deepak Basnet, ticketing executive of Osho World Nepal, said China Southern has slashed its frequency to three weekly flights from double daily before the earthquake on the Kathmandu-Guangzhou sector.
“The carrier’s inbound and outbound occupancy have dropped to its lowest ever of 30 percent. However, airfare s have not dropped sharply.” A one-way ticket on the Kathmandu-Guangzhou flight presently ranges from Rs38,000 to Rs40,000 compared to Rs50,000 to Rs54,000 during the same period last year.
Normally, the June-July period is known as the business season for Nepali traders importing summer clothes and electronic items from China.
Likewise, another Chinese carrier Air China has slashed its flight frequency to four weekly after the earthquake. A one-way ticket on the Chengdu-Lhasa-Kathmandu sector costs Rs38,000. It used to be as high as Rs50,000 during the June-August period in previous years.
Meanwhile, the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur sector is the busiest route at present, travel agencies said. According to Basnet, the inbound occupancy of Malaysia Airlines in mid-June has been recorded at 80 percent while its outbound occupancy is also good compared to other sectors. “The movement of Nepali migrant workers has kept the airlines busy.”
However, the price of a ticket price on the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur sector has dropped to Rs25,000 from Rs32,000 due to the onset of the off season.
The occupancy rate of Turkish Airlines, the only carrier connecting Nepal and Europe directly, has plunged forcing it to cut the frequency from once daily to twice weekly. The airline is flying with less than 30 percent of the seats occupied. It has launched a special scheme to attract passengers offering a round-trip ticket to a number of European destinations for Rs60,000 to Rs65,000. During normal times, a one-way ticket on Turkish Airlines used to cost Rs85,000.
Meanwhile, Nepal Airlines has also launched a Buy 2, Get 1 Free offer on the Kathmandu-Bangkok sector. Under the scheme, a round-trip ticket costs Rs25,000. A one-way ticket on Bangkok-based Thai Airways now costs Rs20,000, down from Rs26,000 earlier.
The outbound passenger occupancy on the Kathmandu-Doha sector has been good but the inbound occupancy has been very poor. Qatar Airways has slashed the number of flights to two daily from four daily before the earthquake. A one-way ticket to Doha now costs Rs25,000, down from Rs32,000 earlier.
Likewise, Singapore-based Silk Air has cut its flight frequency to three weekly from a daily. The carrier has reported an occupancy rate of 30 percent. A round-trip ticket costs Rs60,000.