More than 70 percent of the seats on Dashain flights have been sold as barely three weeks remain for the start of the festival. Dashain sees the country’s greatest annual travel rush when people return to their homes in hordes to celebrate the feast with their families.
Normally, domestic carriers see a dramatic rise in advance seat reservations from the day of Ghatasthapana which occurs on October 1 this year.
However, airlines expect the number of flyers to surge this year as major repairs are being done to the key Narayangadh-Mugling highway resulting in disruptions to overland transportation.
According to operators, reservations on the major trunk routes from October 1-10 had crossed 70 percent as of September 14. Janakpur, Biratnagar and Bhadrapur are the busiest sectors.
Meanwhile, operators reported that flights on the Tumlingtar, Lukla and Jomsom sectors had been sold out.
Carriers attributed the heavy bookings to road obstructions, particularly on the Narayanghat-Mugling highway, prompting travellers to take to the air.
Yeti Airlines said that 90 percent of its seats on the trunk sectors of Bhadrapur, Biratnagar and Bhairahawa had been booked. “We expect all flights on these sectors to be sold out next week,” said Bhim Raj Rai, ground handling and media manager at Yeti Airlines.
He added that flights on tourist sectors like Lukla and Jomsom had been sold out at the beginning of the trekking season. Tickets are also not available on the Tumlingtar sector, he said.
“However, bookings on mountain routes like Simikot, Dolpa and others will be opened by next week. We are preparing to add extra flights based on sector-wise demand and aircraft availability.”
Rupesh Joshi, senior executive manager at Buddha Air, said that Buddha’s average bookings had crossed 70 percent. The Biratnagar and Bhadrapur sectors are the major routes to receive healthy bookings so far. “Bookings are still coming.” Buddha operates five flights to Biratnagar and two flights to Bhadrapur from Kathmandu.
He added that western destinations like Nepalgunj and Dhangadhi did not normally see a travel rush during this time of the year. “Given the current booking trends, we are expecting good business during this festive season.”
Simrik Airlines said its Bhairahawa flights were 70 percent booked, while advance bookings on Lukla and Jomsom flights had crossed 90 percent.
“As autumn is the period of festivals and the peak tourist season, it brings cheer to domestic airlines,” said Prajwol Thapa, chief of the marketing and sales department at Simrik Airlines. Thapa said that they would be adding two new destinations, Khanidanda and Tumlingtar, before Dashain.
October-November is a bonanza season for domestic carriers and it accounts for 20 percent of their annual flight movements.
Carriers don’t offer discount tickets during the September-November period which is their money making season. The profits earned during this period sustain them the rest of the year, said an airline official.
Source: The Kathmandu Post