TIA hit by declines in international flight frequency

Published On: March 18, 2020 10:53 AM NPT By: Muna Sunuwar  | @TheMunaSun

KATHMANDU, March 18: The number international flights to and from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) continue to decline with the issuance of fresh travel advisories from countries across the world. International flight cancellation rate has reached 60% in the country's sole international airport. 

“The movement of passengers using international flights has gone down by 69%,” said Rajan Pokharel, director general at Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), in a meeting with the tourism minister and the deputy prime minister in Kathmandu on Monday. He said that, the number will continue to go down.

Raj Kumar Chhetri, spokesperson at CAAN said that, the air movement has been very low lately. “There used to be 110 air movements daily but now it has gone down to 60 to 70 movements,” he added. 

“Some countries around the world have provided the airlines operators with economic package during crisis and we should have a look at it as well,” he said, adding that the government should design such packages accordingly. 

Similarly, speaking at the meeting on Monday, Tanka Nidhi Dahal, commercial director at Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), the international flights have decreased by an average of 60-70%. “We used to handle 65 flights, which now has gone down to 25 daily flights,” he said.

With the continuation of travel ban on foreigners in different countries, Nepal based international flights have been canceling their flights abroad. Nepal Airlines Corporation suspended its flight to Kuala Lumpur of Malaysia in line with the decision of the Malaysian government to suspend entry for foreign passengers with working visa effective from Tuesday as a preventive measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The airlines will not operate its flight to the destination until further notice. The company has said that it will provide full refund on the tickets scheduled for March 17 or after that date. 

Similarly, Himalaya Airlines has also suspended its flight to and from Kuala Lumpur from Tuesday till March 31. It has also suspended flights to Dammam and Doha. The international airlines had been connecting Kathmandu with Chinese destinations like Chongqing, Beijing, Guiyang, Changsha and Shenzhen. 

Chhetri said that, the passenger flow in the international airport has been continuously declining with the fear of the coronavirus. “International airlines like Korean Air and Thai Air have slashed their flight frequency to Nepal along with flight suspension of Qatar Airways, which will have an impact on the flight quantity,” he further added. The CAAN has projected TIA's earning to go down by 35% this year. The country's sole international airport used to have Rs 6 billion plus revenue annually. The AOAN has projected that the revenue will go down to Rs 4 billion this year.

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