KATHMANDU, Aug 21: Domestic airlines are cashing in on the poor state of Mulging-Narayanghat road as more people prefer to fly rather than take the ordeal of traveling through the landslide-prone road which is undergoing expansion for past two years.
Landslide, long traffic jam and dust have become usual affairs at the strategic road, which connects Kathmandu - the capital city - to eastern parts of the country, affecting thousands of passengers every day.
The dilapidated condition of the 36-kilometer road, however, has benefited domestic airline companies, with many doubling their flights to Kathmandu from different destinations. Buddha Air, for example has doubled its flights on Kathmandu-Bharatpur sector. The airline is currently operating 10 flights a day to Bharatpur. Earlier, it was operating only five flights a day on the sector. Similarly, the carrier is operating eight flights a day to Simara, four flights a day to Bhairahawa, six flights a day to Pokhara and three flights a day to Nepalgunj.
“We are flying with full occupancy with our nine aircraft,” an official of Buddha Air told Republica.
Other airlines have also seen their business rise. Bhim Raj Rai, media manager of Yeti Airlines, told Republica that all its planes are flying with full occupancy. “Earlier, we used to fly with empty seats. Now we are flying with full occupancy,” Rai said, adding: “We are facing hard times meeting demand for air seats.”
Yeti Airlines is currently operating three-five flights in every destination. “We are operating seven aircraft, including a newly added ATR 72-500 aircraft, to meet demand for air seats,” added Rai.
Though private airlines are have a field day due to surge in demand for air seats, it is business usual for the state-owned Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC). Rabindra Shrestha, the spokesperson for the NAC, told Republica that the NAC does not have sufficient aircraft and manpower to operate additional flights.
At present, NAC is operating six aircraft in different domestic destinations.
Though last week's floods affected operation of flights to different airports for many days, airline companies say situation is getting normal with every passing day.