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Domestic airlines asked to submit plans

- Post Report, KATHMANDU

Sep 12, 2014-

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation on Thursday directed domestic airlines to submit their plans for adding extra flights during the festive season.

The airlines have been asked to submit their plans to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) within a week.

Hundreds of thousands of people living in Kathmandu rush back to their homes for Dashain, and the annual mass departure causes a system overload at airlines, lasting more than a week.

A meeting held under the coordination of Suresh Man Shrestha, secretary at the ministry, also directed the operators to charge airfares as approved by the government.

According to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), 320,210 travellers, or 21

percent of the total 1.54 million domestic passengers, flew during Dashain and Tihar last year.

The data also include tourist movement as the October-November period is the peak tourism season.

The meeting also directed the operators to manage flights to provide efficient services to the expected rush of South Korea aspirants, who will be appearing for the written examination of the Employment Permit System scheduled for September 26-27. However, according to the Ministry of Labour and Employment, on the suggestion of the government, it could postpone the examination. More than 60,000 people will be appearing for the exam.

The ministry has asked the Caan to monitor flights from airports in Kathmandu, Biratnagar, Pokhara, Nepalgunj and Surkhet. The ministry has also directed operators to position at least one helicopter each in Pokhara, Nepalgunj and Surkhet to facilitate rescue operations, if need be.

Meanwhile, the Ministry has requested single-engine airplane operators to make optimum utilisation of their aircraft during the festival. As single-engine air operators serve remote destinations, the ministry has requested them to provide chartered services at discounted rates.

The meeting also asked the Caan to repair airports in Faflu, Rara and Bhojpur, among others, to ensure smooth services to these remote destinations.

Lawmakers on Thursday’s meeting asked the ministry to launch schemes for airlines that will encourage them to operate to remote destinations. They have proposed providing discount on VAT on fuel.

According to operators, reservations on major trunk routes, for period between September 25 and October 3, have crossed 75 percent as of September 10.

Janakpur, Biratnagar and Bhadrapur are the busiest sectors. Carriers attributed the healthy bookings to floods and landslides in many parts of the country, prompting travellers to take air routes.

As private operators are yet to announce their additional flight plans, Nepal Airlines said it would conduct an additional 23 flights for 10 days starting September 23.

Currently, it flies 47 flights a week. Private operators said they would add additional flights based on the travel demand.

Published: 12-09-2014 09:29

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