Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Indian, Middle Eastern Carriers Rush To Tap Nepal's Summer Exodus


Aviation Daily Apr 27 , 2010 , p. 10
Neelam Mathews

Indian and Middle Eastern carriers are stepping up efforts to capitalize on the summer rush of Nepal expatriates and tourists to Europe, while national carrier Nepal Airlines' connection to the West remains tenuous, and the carrier continues to experience cash flow and political problems.

Kingfisher Airlines recently launched a daily Airbus A320 frequency to Kathmandu from Delhi to its London flights to offer convenient connections. In June, it plans to start direct flights between Mumbai and Kathmandu. Kingfisher is the fourth Indian carrier to fly from Delhi to Kathmandu, after Jetlite with daily service, Jet Airways with 12 frequencies and Air India with double daily flights.

Etihad Airways increased its Abu Dhabi-Kathmandu flights from four to seven per week in January to connect further to Europe and the U.S. Etihad’s flights to Kathmandu have proved popular, “providing high volumes of traffic into Abu Dhabi and the Middle East, as well as transit traffic to London and Frankfurt...and New York and Chicago,” said a carrier executive.

Average load factors of 80%-90% on inbound and outbound flights are attributable to growth in corporate travel and also a positive trend in inbound tourism to Nepal. The additional flights were introduced to satisfy these customers’ demands for daily frequencies, says Etihad.

Although Emirates Airlines' Kathmandu operation initially faced tough competition, the Kathmandu market is growing chiefly because of quality service delivered to customers, says the carrier. “If you want to go from Glasgow to Sydney or from Chennai to Houston or from Moscow to Cape Town or from Nagoya to Sao Paulo, Emirates Airlines to Kathmandu is the right choice to meet your demand,” it adds.

Western Europe constitutes 18.2% of visitors from Europe, followed by 8.2% from Northern Europe.

Nepal receives about 500,000 visitors annually carried by roughly 23 international airlines — mostly second-tier Asian companies tapping migrant workers. After Lufthansa stopped flights to Kathmandu in 1995, for instance, German tourists fell from 44,530 in 1994 to 20,000 last year.

The government's Nepal Tourism Year 2011 campaign aims to bring in 1 million tourists by 2011.

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