All domestic flights from KTM sold outAll domestic flights out of Kathmandu have been sold out as the Dashain travel rush, the largest annual migration in Nepal, begins.
All domestic flights out of Kathmandu have been sold out as the Dashain travel rush, the largest annual migration in Nepal, begins.
Airline officials said that travellers were scrambling for tickets as they wanted to avoid a long and tedious overland trip due to the poor condition of the Narayangadh-Mugling Highway, a key route linking the capital with the country’s eastern and western parts.
Moreover, a spate of recent bus crashes have made holiday makers nervous about travelling by surface transport.
Every year before the Dashain holidays, hundreds of thousands of people working or studying in the Kathmandu Valley return home to be with their families for the celebrations.
Last year, airlines saw an unprecedented rise in the number of fliers due to the Tarai unrest when highways were blocked and overland transportation services came to a standstill.
The air travel rush has continued this Dashain with domestic airlines seeing extremely high traffic loads on all sectors.
Traditionally, seats on flights to destinations in the eastern sector—Bhadrapur, Biratnagar and Janakpur—would be snapped up during the Dashain holiday rush while things were somewhat quieter on flights to Nepalgunj, Bhairahawa and Dhangadhi in the western sector. However, this year, airlines have been reporting overbooking on flights to these destinations too.
“This year, we have seen exceptional demand. There are no tickets available on any domestic sector,” said Rupesh Joshi, senior executive manager at Buddha Air. “We have added extra flights to cater for the rise in demand, but they are not sufficient to handle such a big rush.”
Buddha has doubled its frequency to six flights daily on the Kathmandu-Bharatpur sector. The carrier has added two extra flights on the Biratnagar sector to make seven daily flights. It has added one flight on the Bhadrapur sector to make three daily flights.
Likewise, Yeti Airlines will be operating two extra flights on October 6 and 8 and three flights on October 7 on the Biratnagar sector. It currently makes four daily flights to Biratnagar.
“We are not able to add flights on all sectors due to lack of aircraft, but we are trying our best to make life easier for travellers,” said Bhim Raj Rai, media manager of Yeti Airlines. “Traditionally, demand rises during the Dashain festival, but this year it has been extraordinary,” he said
Even though flying is six to seven times costlier than travelling by bus, holiday makers are ready to make the extra expense. People fear driving on the country’s bad roads, airline officials said. Frequent bus crashes due to overloading and rash driving have also unnerved potential passengers.
As the festival season coincides with the peak tourist season, the Nepali skies record an average 300 domestic flights daily during October.
According to Tribhuvan International Airport statistics, domestic airlines receive nearly 17 percent of the 1.45 million annual traveller movement during this month.