Shree Airlines receives its first Bombardier CRJ-200 jetCompetition in the domestic airline industry is likely to intensify with Nepal’s largest helicopter operator Shree Airlines launching fixed-wing services.
Competition in the domestic airline industry is likely to intensify with Nepal’s largest helicopter operator Shree Airlines launching fixed-wing services.
The first of the three Bombardier Canadair Regional Jets (CRJs) ordered by Shree landed in Kathmandu on Wednesday. The aircraft flew in from Japan via China.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) has allocated the call sign 9N-AMC to the jet. Shree said its two other jets, a 50-seater CRJ-200 and a 78-seater CRJ-700, would arrive next week.
The airline said it would start commercial passenger services within a month after completing the aircraft deregistration process and procedures stipulated by the aviation regulator.
Shree has been allotted six sectors—Bhadrapur, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj, Dhangadhi and mountain flight.
It has become the second Nepali carrier to fly Bombardier aircraft after Saurya Airlines. Airline officials said the reduced travel time offered by jet aircraft would help them to attract travellers and break the duopoly of Buddha Air and Yeti Airlines on trunk routes.
Currently, Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines, Simrik Airlines, Saurya Airlines and Nepal Airlines serve domestic trunk routes.
“Obviously, the market will become intense. As a new player, we have our own strategies to attract passengers and so do the existing airlines to secure their market share,” said Sudhir Mittal, chairman of Shree Airlines. “Our decision to bring three jets at once is focused on safety, reliability and passenger comfort.”
The airline has invested Rs2 billion on its expansion project. It will be hiring at least 200 more personnel for its expansion project.
Shree received a no objection certificate from Caan last March to buy or lease aircraft, eight months after the carrier applied to begin fixed-wing operations. Although, Shree had planned to launch commercial operations by the end of 2016, stringent Air Operators Certificate requirements forced it to push back its launch date. The carrier has also set an ambitious plan to connect South Asian markets in the second phase. Currently, it has an international operation licence for its MI-17 helicopters only. Started in 1999, it currently has six MI-17 and four Eurocopter AS350 B3e helicopters.
The domestic aviation sector has been moving towards recovery after putting the devastating earthquake behind it, but a spate of crashes has badly dented the reputation of Nepali airlines.
According to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Nepal’s domestic air passenger movement jumped 28.85 percent to 1.75 million in 2016, as travellers took to the air to avoid bone-jarring national highways.