Airlines slash fares as slack season sets in

Fares on the Bhairahawa, Dhangadhi, Bhadrapur and Pokhara sectors have fallen to Rs 2,600, Rs 3,500, Rs 3,150 and Rs 1,775 respectively


Domestic carriers have slashed airfares with the onset of the slow summer season and a drop in passenger flow. Although the normal tariff remains intact, half of the travellers hold tickets based on the cheapest fare structure, said airlines.

Domestic airlines had recently hiked ticket prices amid rising operating costs, but they promptly rolled them back after the number of passengers declined 30 percent. Airlines said that occupancy on major long-haul sectors fell 25-30 percent after the hike in airfares. Tickets had been increased by 14-19 percent in mid-February with the price going up by as much as Rs 1,476 on the Dhangadhi sector. “The airline industry is based on demand and supply. During the peak season, airfares automatically go up,” said Rupesh Joshi, marketing manager of Buddha Air.

Domestic passengers may see a further cut in airfares amid the off-season and rising competition among airlines. The cheapest one-way ticket from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj which was priced at Rs 4,100 decreased to Rs 3,000 in the second week of April after passenger flows slowed down.

Similarly, the cheapest fare on the Biratnagar sector dropped to Rs 2,500 from Rs 3,100, while fares on the Bhairahawa, Dhangadhi, Bhadrapur and Pokhara sectors have fallen to Rs 2,600, Rs 3,500, Rs 3,150 and Rs 1,775 respectively. “However, when passenger movement grows and the peak autumn season begins, cheap seats become hard to find,” said Prajwol Thapa, marketing manager of Guna Airlines.

“The cheap fares will last till July 15,” Joshi added. Airfares go up during the period September to November because of increased travel during the Dashain and Tihar festivals and the peak tourist season.

Domestic airlines report an occupancy rate of more than 90 percent. Air passenger movement saw a robust growth of 12.83 percent in 2010 compared to the previous year. According to the statistics released by Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), domestic airlines carried 1,554,701 travellers in 2010 or 176,833 more than in 2009.

Domestic aircraft movement increased 4.83 percent in 2010 compared to 2009. There were 79,874 flights in 2010, up 3,683 from 2009.

Market experts predict that carriers will continue to raise fares with the rising price of fuel which accounts for 25-30 percent of their operating costs. Nepal Oil Corporation recently increased the price of aviation fuel by Rs 10 per litre.

Posted on: 2011-05-02 09:08


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