Domestic airlines saw a 6 percent drop in passenger traffic, but foreign carriers connecting Nepal recorded a double-digit growth of 11.82 percent in 2014.
This marks the 12th consecutive years of growth for international airlines since 2003. Increased movement of migrant workers and tourists as well as Nepalis studying abroad helped generate the robust growth, airlines officials said.
The number of international flyers (in and out) rose by 371,345 to reach 3.51 million in 2014, according to the statistics of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). As the demand for seats soared, international flight movements rose 15.19 percent to 27,208. A majority of the airlines operated double daily flights from Nepal.
Foreign and domestic carriers collectively flew 4.96 million passengers last year. The country’s sole international airport saw 95,744 take-offs and landings, with domestic airlines accounting for more than 75 percent. On an average, 263 flights took off and landed at TIA daily last year.
However, outlook for this year is that promising due to a number of unfortunate incidents. After the April 25 earthquake, international airlines have significantly reduced their flight frequencies to Nepal due to low demand.
Hari Man Lama, chairman of Incentive Group of Companies and general sales agent of Air Asia X, said after the disaster, international flights have reduced their frequencies by 60 percent.
Before the quake, the four-day closure of TIA induced by a Turkish Airlines crash significantly affected the occupancy, he said. “And now, manpower agencies’ protest against the government’s free-visa, free-ticket policy on major labour destinations has hit the business hard”.
More than 450,000 youths enter the labour market every year and in the first eight months of the last fiscal year, 364,740 individuals left the country for foreign employment, according to the Economic Survey 2014-15. “With all the negative things happening, the outlook is not so good,” Lama said, adding the government needs to play an active role in tourism promotion to bring back the tourists. India’s Jet Airways, for the first time, topped the list of the carriers with the highest number of passengers. Jet which serves the Delhi and Mumbai sectors received 384,139 passengers last year, up 22.15 percent.
Doha-based Qatar Airways stood second. Its occupancy dropped 8.54 percent to 321,975 year-on-year. Air Arabia climbed up to the third spot, posting a strong 21.79 percent passenger growth. It flew 246,050 passengers last year. No-frills carrier Fly Dubai posted a 6.88 percent growth, with 246,050 passengers.
India’s flag carrier Indian Airlines slipped to the fifth spot as it saw the number of passengers drop 5.08 percent to 236,319. Malaysia’s low-cost carrier Air Asia X posted a strong passenger growth to replace Nepal Airlines from the sixth spot. Air Asia X received 213,406 passengers last year, up 55.40 percent.
Nepal Airlines saw a negative passenger growth. It flew 206,430 travellers, down 3.46 percent compared to the previous year.
India’s budget airline Spice Jet saw its passenger numbers drop by a marginal 0.06 percent to 181,976, while Malaysia Airlines posted a solid 74.69 percent growth. Malaysia Airlines flew 169,450 passengers. Etihad Airways posted saw its passenger numbers rise 30.67 percent to 166,355.
The TIA statistics show Turkish Airlines, which started the Istanbul- Kathmandu flights linking Nepal with Europe in September 2013, flew 120,486 passengers last year. Thai Airways and Oman Air recorded negative passenger growth of 9.78 percent and 4.56 percent, respectively. Thai received 140,173 flyers, while Oman flew 89,933.
Three Chinese carriers—Air China, China Southern and China eastern—received a combined 241,851 travellers last year, up 28.93 percent.
Silk Air and Korean Air also posted healthy growth. Silk flew 54,895 passengers, up 11.30 percent, and Korean Air flew 54,390 passengers, up 46.89 percent.
TOP 10 CARRIERS
Airline 2013 2014 Change (%)
Jet Airways 314,462 384,139 22.15
Qatar Airways 352,062 321,975 -8.54
Air Arabia 220,832 268,953 21.79
Fly Dubai 230,211 246,050 6.88
Air India 248,971 236,319 -5.08
Air Asia X 137,322 213,406 55.40
Nepal Airlines 213,837 206,430 -3.46
Spice Jet 182,098 181,976 -0.06
Malaysia Airlines 96,999 169,450 74.69
Etihad Airways 127,302 166,355 30.67
Taken from: eKantipur