Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has triggered a fare war in the Indian skies by announcing the resumption of services to Mumbai and Bangalore. Carriers flying between Nepal and India have been unnerved enough to slash their frequency following news that NAC would restart flying the two routes which had been suspended for a decade.
On Friday, the national flag carrier launched a special fare offer and promotional schemes on flights to these two Indian cities. According to NAC, Kathmandu-Bangalore flights will resume on September 1 and a return ticket will cost Rs20,893 including taxes.
It will be operating two weekly flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays and plans to add a third service shortly. NAC will be the sole international carrier to connect the South Indian hub from Kathmandu.
Although the April 25 earthquake has affected the traveller movement to Bangalore, the normal fare in September last year ranged from Rs20,000 to Rs22,000 one way, according to travel agencies. The normal airfare on the Kathmandu-Mumbai sector in September last year was Rs25,000 one way.
Meanwhile, the price of a return ticket on the Kathmandu-Mumbai sector has been set at Rs21,067 including taxes. Services on the Kathmandu-Mumbai sector will start on September 4 with two weekly flights on Mondays and Fridays.
Meanwhile, Indian carrier Jet Airways has downgraded its double daily flight on the Kathmandu-Mumbai sector to a daily. The frequency will be further reduced to four weekly from September, and the carrier will fix its schedule so as not to clash with NAC’s services.
NAC has also launched a “buy two, get one free” offer on both these Indian sectors. The offer will be valid until September. Currently, NAC offers this scheme on the Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok sectors.
“We have resumed operations on both sectors as they are lucrative markets in terms of trade and Indian tourist arrivals,” said Ram Hari Sharma, spokesperson of NAC.
Among Indian destinations, Bangalore has a huge number of outbound tourists and is a major potential market for Nepal, he added.
Besides, the city has been an education hub for Nepali students, particularly for medical and engineering education.
The promotional fares for both the Indian cities could be extended based on demand, Sharma said. Travel agencies said that resumption of NAC flights on these sectors would trigger an airfare war, which ultimately would benefit travellers.
NAC was forced to stop flying to Mumbai in 2005 and Bangalore in 2006 due to lack of aircraft. The carrier used to fly to five Indian cities, namely Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Patna and Kolkata. It resumed Kathmandu-Delhi services last February.
“We hope that we will get the same kind of response we used to get from these Indian destinations,” Sharma said. The arrival of two new Airbus A320 jets made it possible for NAC to increase the number of destinations.
Over the last decade, the number of international destinations had been slashed from 21 to four. During its heyday, the national carrier used to fly to Amsterdam, Colombo, Dhaka, Frankfurt, Karachi, London, Osaka, Paris, Shanghai, Singapore and Vienna besides five Indian cities—Bangalore, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Patna. It presently connects Kathmandu with Doha, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Delhi.