NOC to resume refuelling services for foreign jetsThe state-owned fuel supplier has also been mulling a big price cut in aviation fuel sold to int’l airlines
Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has decided to resume refueling services for international carriers at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) from February 16 as fuel reserves have improved.
The country’s sole international airport had stopped providing fuel to foreign airlines for the last four and a half months due to a jet fuel crisis caused by the unofficial trade embargo by India.
NOC has also been mulling a big price cut in aviation fuel sold to international airlines. On Tuesday, the state-owned oil monopoly held a meeting with representatives of international airlines serving Kathmandu and told them that it would be providing aviation fuel in full-fledged manner.
“Aviation fuel imports have improved after the trade restriction at the Birgunj-Raxaul border point was lifted on Friday,” said Pradip Kumar Yadav, in-charge of the aviation fuel depot at TIA. “A notice will be issued to airlines next week.”
He said that 300,000 litres of aviation fuel had been imported on Tuesday and 400,000 litres would be arriving on Wednesday. “We have also boosted our reserves and are now capable of issuing jet fuel to airlines in a full-fledged manner.”
The daily aviation fuel demand for international carriers stands at 300,000 litres.
On September 29, 2015, TIA announced that it would not be able to provide refuelling facilities to foreign carriers after its reserves ran dry. During the crisis, Nepal Airlines airlifted fuel to keep domestic airlines flying.
The first casualty of the decision was China Southern Airlines which totally suspended its Nepal service, and it remains closed till today. Subsequently, many airlines had slashed their frequency to Nepal due to the cost factor of flying to Nepal.
Since the fuel crisis, eastbound flights have been stopping in Dhaka, Bangladesh or Kolkata, India to refuel on their return trip; and westbound flights have been stopping for fuel in Lucknow.
Airline officials said that changing the refuelling point results in an extra financial burden of at least $8,000 per flight.
Most airlines serving TIA have been flying with 30-40 fewer passengers than their full capacity as they need to refuel outside Nepal, which results in additional landing and parking charges.
As aviation fuel costs five times more in Nepal than in New Delhi, India, NOC has also decided to
make a significant cut in jet fuels price this week.
The parliamentary International Relations and Labour Committee has also directed the Ministry of Supplies to set prices of aviation fuel as per the market rate.
NOC charges international carriers $1,530 per kilolitre of aviation fuel while it costs $391.60 per kilolitre in Delhi. In Kolkata, jet fuel costs $436.94 per kilolitre.
Yadav said that NOC planned to revise the fuel price by Friday
or Saturday, and it would be in line with the parliamentary committee’s directives.
Local travel agencies said that ticket prices had not decreased as expected because fuel shortages had kept them on the high side, hurting tourist arrivals to the country.
They said that if jet fuel was available at TIA at the international market rate, ticket prices would drop significantly. Travel agencies said that international airlines would resume their normal frequency once the jet fuel crisis eased at TIA.