Airlines make hay as travellers shun roadsDomestic carriers saw a robust growth in passenger traffic in the first nine months of 2016 as travellers chose to fly rather than drive over bone-jarring national highways.
Domestic carriers saw a robust growth in passenger traffic in the first nine months of 2016 as travellers chose to fly rather than drive over bone-jarring national highways.
According to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), domestic airline passenger traffic jumped 21.15 percent to 1.19 million during the January-September period. Domestic carriers received 209,127 additional fliers in the first nine months of 2016 compared to the same period last year.
Nepal’s domestic air passenger movement continued to shrink for four straight years, dropping 5.96 percent in 2015, as a series of disasters struck the country denting travel demand. However, airline officials are optimistic that the industry is gradually returning to the heady days.
Meanwhile, domestic flight movement dropped 1.45 percent to 47,960 flights in the first nine months of 2016.
“Poor road conditions were a major factor in boosting airline occupancy,” said Ghanshyam Acharya, spokesperson for the Airlines Operators Association of Nepal. Besides, air travel has become more affordable for people, he said. “Except during crisis periods, airlines have been selling tickets at affordable prices.”
Acharya said that increased domestic tourist movement last year also contributed to airline occupancy growth. Domestic travel movement accounted for 6-7 percent of the growth, he added.
“The year 2017 looks more promising for domestic airlines as a majority of them are expanding their fleets,” he said. More players in the market and additional seats means ticket prices will also become competitive, he added.
There was a healthy growth in tourist movement last year, and its spillover effect has been seen among domestic airlines too, airline officials said.
A breakdown by airline shows that Buddha Air flew 720,503 travellers in the first nine months of 2016, commanding 60 percent of the passenger market share. Yeti Airlines flew 274,955 passengers, Saurya Airlines 62,369, Tara Air 39,269 and Nepal Airlines carried 28,716 passengers.
Passenger movement has been on a constant decline since 2012, marking a departure from the robust growth rates seen since 2008 when airlines were flying high due to competitive airfares, road blockades and increased NGO/INGO staff movement after the peace process and a real estate boom.
Airlines saw a strong growth of 13 percent in 2008 which jumped to 33 percent in 2009 as they cut fares amid stiff competition. Although passenger movement increased 12.83 percent in 2010, the growth rate started dropping in 2011 and has shown a negative growth since 2012.
Buddha Air 720,503
Yeti Airlines 274,955
Saurya Airlines 62,369
Tara Air 39,269
Nepal Airlines 28,716
Simrik Airlines 27,791
Goma Air 15,819
Sita Air 10,414