Domestic carriers posted double-digit growth in passenger carriage in the first half of 2016, pulling out of a four-year dive as travellers chose to fly rather than drive over bone-jarring national highways.
According to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), domestic airline passenger traffic jumped 10.82 percent to 741,128 during the January-June period.
The statistics show that domestic carriers received 72,388 additional fliers in the first six months of 2016 compared to the same period last year. The figure includes passengers carried by single-engine aircraft and helicopters.
“Poor road conditions were a major factor in boosting airline occupancy,” said Ghanshyam Acharya, spokesperson for the Airlines Operators Association of Nepal. “Bad roads continue to be a hindrance to safe and affordable surface transport.”
Acharya added that the domestic airline occupancy rate had been over 75 percent consistently since the start of the year. “The rising occupancy rate also indicates that the aviation industry has bounced back after a series of disasters last year that dented travel demand. Foreign tourists are also coming back to Nepal.”
At the same time, there has been a sudden rise in domestic tourist movement with hordes of Nepalis getting bitten by the travel bug and vacationing all over the country, which is a good sign for the airline industry, he said.
Meanwhile, domestic flight movement dropped 8.52 percent in the first half of this year. The 16 domestic airlines, including eight fixed-wing companies, made 31,495 flights in 2016.
A breakdown by airline shows that all of them except Simrik Airlines, Goma Air and Saurya Airlines posted growth. Buddha Air saw robust passenger carriage growth. According to the statistics, the carrier flew 432,941 travellers in the first half of 2016, up 23.65 percent.
Yeti Airlines saw its passenger movement rise 2.93 percent to 174,765. Yeti’s subsidiary Tara Air, which only operates on remote sectors, observed a double-digit growth of 16.73 percent. It flew 26,967 passengers in the first half of 2016.
Nepal Airlines also posted strong passenger growth. TIA statistics show that passenger carriage by Nepal Airlines swelled 8.52 percent to 20,571 in the first six months of 2016. The national flag carrier saw the strongest passenger growth since it started operating the 56-seater Chinese-made MA60 aircraft in 2014.
Sita Air, which operates on remote sectors, also observed a robust passenger growth of 62.81 percent. It flew 8,157 travellers in the first six months of 2016. However, Simrik Airlines, Goma Air and Saurya Airlines saw negative passenger growth.
Simrik received 18,388 passengers, down 44.91 percent. Likewise, Goma saw its passenger numbers drop by a marginal 1.39 percent to 12,046 fliers. Goma Air started scheduled domestic operations in October 2014.
Saurya Airlines which began flying in November 2014 carried 33,712 passengers, down 14.92 in the first half of 2016, according to TIA statistics. It is permitted to operate only charter flights currently due to regulatory restrictions.
Source: The Kathmandu Post