Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) saw double-digit growth in terms of international passenger traffic in the first half of 2018, setting the stage for yet another record year.
According to TIA data, 2.15 million travellers passed through the country’s sole international airport in the first six months of 2018, up 14.99 percent year-on-year. Aircraft movement grew 2.99 percent to 16,963 flights. Currently, 29 international airlines, including three Nepali carriers, operate international flights from Kathmandu.
The country’s super congested airport is likely to see more aircraft and passenger movement as Oman’s first budget airline, Salam Air, is scheduled to begin Nepal service this month.
On August 2, low-cost carrier Thai Lion Air made its maiden flight on the Bangkok-Kathmandu sector, becoming the second carrier from the land of white elephants to connect Nepal.
Meanwhile, the government has approved Indian private carrier Jet Airways’ plan to fly on the Kolkata and Bangalore route. Currently, Jet operates five daily flights—three on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector and two on the Kathmandu-Mumbai route.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), Turkish Airlines will also be conducting daily flights on the Kathmandu-Istanbul sector while Nepal Airlines will be expanding its wings to a number of destinations this year.
“TIA has been witnessing solid growth, and the growth momentum has continued this year too,” said Sanjiv Gautam, director general of CAAN. “We are also expecting a record number of tourists this year, which will increase traveller movement at the airport,” he said.
“We are doing our best to handle the growth,” he said. Since May 21, TIA has been open for 21 hours a day due to a sharp growth in air passenger traffic. “We are also expanding the terminal building and scientifically managing airport slots to handle the growth.” CAAN has planned to construct 16 new parking bays.
TIA statistics show that Chinese carriers saw their passenger carriage grow notably in the first six months. Five Chinese carriers—Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Sichuan Air and Tibet Airlines—flew 197,815 travellers in the first half of 2018. These carriers, excluding Tibet Airlines, which began service in August last year, carried 152,829 passengers in the first half of 2017.
A breakdown by airline shows that India’s Jet Airways topped the list of carriers with the highest number of passengers. Jet flew 234,542 passengers in the first six months of this year, up 3.08 percent. Qatar Airways rebounded strongly this year, taking the second spot with a passenger carriage growth of 42.05 percent.
It flew 198,699 passengers during the review period.
Nepal Airlines slipped to third place with passenger numbers dropping 6.24 percent to 197,010 flyers. The drop in passenger numbers was due to its A320 plane being grounded in New Delhi, India for more than two months.
India’s flag carrier Air India posted a strong passenger growth of 34.15 percent, as it flew a total of 130,755 passengers. Nepali private carrier Himalaya Airlines made its first appearance in the top 10 list in terms of passenger carriage, posting a solid 111.46 growth in the first six months of 2018. The carrier flew 118,871 passengers. Malaysian-based low-cost airline Malindo Air also saw the strongest passenger occupancy, recording a 29.17 percent growth.
INTERNATIONAL PASSENGER TRAFFIC (JAN-JUNE 2018)
Airlines 2017 2018 Change (in %)
Jet Airways 227,512 234,542 3.08
Qatar Airways 139,879 198,699 42.05
Nepal Airlines 210,131 197,010 -6.24
Fly Dubai 168,677 168,785 0.06
Air India 97,462 130,755 34.15
Himalaya Airlines 56,213 118,871 111.46
Air Arabia 155,004 113,381 -26.85
Malindo Air 68,115 87,986 29.17
Oman Air 89,013 84,694 -4.85
Thai Airways 84,373 84,014 -0.42
(Source: TIA)Published: 2018-09-08 08:34:40