Nepal Airlines slashes flight frequency to Japan within a week of resuming servicesAirline official says inadequate publicity led to poor bookings.
Nepal Airlines Corporation slashed flight frequency to Japan within a week of resuming services due to poor bookings. The national flag carrier said it had cut flights to Osaka to twice weekly from thrice weekly in line with demand.
Nepal Airlines resumed flights to Osaka last week after a break of more than a decade with three weekly flights—on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays—using Airbus A330 aircraft that can accommodate 274 passengers.
“We were not able to get passenger numbers as expected. On some days, there aren’t even five to six passengers,” said Ganesh Bahadur Chand, spokesperson for the corporation. “So we decided to stop the Thursday flight. Passenger bookings on the other two flights are also poor, but we are forced to operate them despite losses,” he said. However, October bookings look good, said Chand.
Nepal Airlines is offering one-way flights to Osaka at a throwaway price of Rs36,900, which is 25-30 percent cheaper than the going rate. But even that has failed to attract passengers. Officials admitted that Nepal Airlines’ reputation for inefficiency, a decade-old hallmark of the flag carrier, was behind the lacklustre sales.
Chand ascribed the poor bookings to inadequate publicity. “But we hope to get full occupancy during the festival season as many Nepalis are expected to return from Japan to celebrate Dashain and Tihar,” he said. October and November are also peak tourist months in Nepal.
Last June, Nepal Airlines postponed the re-launch of its Osaka service slated for July 4 till the end of August due to ‘very poor’ bookings during the low season. At that time, the carrier said that moving flight resumption to September was a risk-mitigating approach, as it could incur heavy losses.
The June-August or monsoon period is the off-season for travelling in Nepal. Nepal Airlines used to temporarily suspend its Osaka flights during this time of the year when it was operating its Japan service regularly over a decade ago.
The carrier had planned to resume flights to Osaka in September last year, but preparations were incomplete, leading to delays in approval from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau to use Kansai International Airport. The Japan Civil Aviation Bureau only granted flight authorisation to Nepal Airlines in mid-April.
The carrier is mulling to operate flights to Narita International Airport in Tokyo from January 1.
Nepal Airlines launched its Japan service in 1994, flying to Osaka via Shanghai, China. In 2007, it was forced to suspend the route as it did not have enough planes.
The carrier expects the resumption of its Japan service to help improve its financial health. Nepal Airlines has found itself in the midst of a financial crunch as it has not been able to fly its newly acquired Airbus A330 jets on profitable long routes like Japan and Europe.
Nepal Airlines mulling direct negotiations to sell its 757
Nepal Airlines Corporation said it may issue a notice for 'direct negotiations' for the sale of its vintage Boeing 757 since there were no takers even after publishing two consecutive auction notices.
The corporation had put the 31-year-old Boeing named Gandaki with registration number 9N-ACB and its spare parts up for auction on June 26, with the minimum sale price at $7.8 million.
The jet is valued at $5.4 million out of the total sale price, the carrier said. Two firms had submitted bids to buy the plane, but the price quoted by them was lower than the asking price. On August 14, the corporation issued a second auction notice and received two offers.
“Both bidders were disqualified as the price quoted by one company was too low while the other company did not meet the eligibility requirement,” said Ganesh Bahadur Chand, spokesperson for the corporation. “Now, we will be issuing a direct negotiation notice,” he said. “But a formal decision has not been made.”
The 9N-ACB joined the fleet of the then Royal Nepal Airlines in September 1988. This special Combi model is capable of seating passengers and carrying two pallets of cargo. According to Nepal Airlines, the Gandaki’s frame is the only pure 757 Combi built by Boeing.