ISTANBUL, June 23:Turkish Airlines has said that it will increase flights to Kathmandu if price of aviation turbine fuel in Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu is reduced in line with drop in price in global oil market.
As price of ATF in Kathmandu is nearly double compared to other destinations, we are forced to reduce flights, a senior official of the airline told Nepali media persons in Istanbul. “The price we pay for aviation fuel in Kathmandu is more than double of what we pay in other destinations. It has affected us financially," A Harun Basturk, vice-president (Sales, Asia and Far East) of Turkish Airlines, told Republica.
According to the airline company, it pays about US$ 1,000 for a kiloliter of ATV in Kathmandu compared to an average of $400 per kilometer in other destinations. The airline loads ATF worth $50,000 in Kathmandu for every flight.
The company brought down its flights to four times a week from seven flights per week after the earthquake of April last year. The airline has been bringing around 300 European tourists per flight. Addition of one flight means an additional 300 European tourists.
Though crude oil price has plunged by about half compared to price of June, 2014, Nepal Oil Corporation (NoC) has not adjusted price of ATF citing its accumulated debt. It has prevented aviation sector from cashing in on the drop in fuel prices.
"If fuel price is brought down, we will be thinking about operating daily flights, bringing more tourists to the country,” added Basturk.
Turkish Air has been bringing around 30,000 foreign tourists to Nepal annually. It plans to add one more flight from the coming winter season. Probably we will be flying to Kathmandu every day, Basturk said.
Turkish Airlines has 'look east' approach particularly to cash in on growing middle class in China and India. Turkish people generally choose European countries for holidaying.
"We continued our service to Nepal even during difficult time of April earthquake last year and thereafter for we not only count on profits as we are the national flag-carrier of Turkey and also value on connecting people culturally," Abdullah Tuncer Kececi, regional marketing manager of the airline based in Kathmandu, told Republica on Monday.
"We are also promoting Nepal among Turkish people as well as among other European people, encouraging them to travel in Nepal and expect more trade happening via our airlines."
Passenger flow in the Asia and Pacific is expected to increase to 35 percent of total flow in the world by 2034, up from 29 percent in 2014.
Turkish Airlines added 34 new destinations in Far East in the past 13 years. It was flying to only 15 destinations in the region till 2002. It plans to add five more destinations in the near future. The company also plans to add more destinations and flights to China and India.