Malindo Air to start KL service

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu
Malindo Air to start KL service

Jan 21, 2015-

Malindo Air will be operating a daily flight service between Kathmandu and Kuala Lumpur from February 6, the Malaysian carrier officially announced on Wednesday.

The arrival of Malindo is likely to trigger a price war on the busy route as it plans to offer heavily discounted promotional airfares. According to the airline’s website, its promotional one-way fare starts from RM 399 (Rs 10,875) for economy class and RM 649 (Rs 17,690) for business class, inclusive of free baggage allowance, in-flight entertainment and light refreshment or full-service meal.

The normal airfare on the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur sector is Rs 23,000 one-way while it jumps to more than Rs 28,000 during the peak season.

Currently, three airlines, Nepal Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and budget carrier Air Asia X, offer direct services on the route with a combined 31 flights weekly. Similarly, Biman Bangladesh, Jet Airways, Thai Airways and United Airways operate flights to Kuala Lumpur from their respective hubs.

Malaysia Airlines charges Rs 28,000 one-way while the airfare on Nepal Airlines and Thai Airways is around Rs 24,000, travel agencies said.

With Malindo’s entry and Nepal Airlines planning to boost its frequency to two daily, there will be 46 flights per week on the route.

Malindo is a joint venture between Malaysian and Indonesian companies. It has been called a hybrid airline for being between a budget carrier and a legacy carrier in terms of services and airfares.

Travel trade entrepreneurs said that travellers on the sector will be able to cash in on a new round of low-cost fares as airlines are likely to go head-to-head in a new price battle to attract business, particularly from Nepali migrant workers. A sharp drop in jet fuel prices is also another reason why airlines are likely to cut rates, they said.    

The Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur route has emerged as the one of the most lucrative sectors for airlines with a continuous surge in the number of Malaysia-bound migrant workers. A rough estimate shows that around 500,000 Nepalis are presently working in Malaysia.

“Malindo has entered Nepal with an aggressive plan and is cranking up its airfare war with a promotional offering,” said Shyam Raj Thapaliya, managing director of Osho World Travel Nepal.

“The airfare war is likely to be more intense in the days ahead as the existing airlines will also be forced to cut their ticket prices.”

Malindo will be flying brand new Boeing 737-900 aircraft on the route. The flight will depart Kuala Lumpur at 7:05 pm and arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) at 9:30 pm local time. The return flight will depart Kathmandu at 10:20 pm and reach Kuala Lumpur at 5:15 am local time.

Chandran Rama Muthy, chief executive officer of Malindo, said his airline aimed to bring tourists to Nepal besides serving Nepali travellers. “We will be offering the best value fares with the best facilities.” The carrier is optimistic about securing a large market share.

Malindo has appointed Yeti Incentive Travel, a subsidiary of the Yeti Group, as its general sales agent in Nepal.

Ratish Chandra Lal Suman, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, said that traveller movement from East and South Asia had been growing immensely prompting more and more airlines to serve Nepal.

“Although, TIA is facing heavy air traffic congestion, we are making every effort to accommodate more aircraft,” said Suman.

 

Published: 22-01-2015 09:52

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