NAC to lease Sajha buses as stopgap measures

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jan 4, 2017-

Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has decided to lease two buses from Sajha Yatayat as an interim measure to handle the surge in passenger movement at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). 

The move follows complaints by airlines that the two airfield ramp buses of NAC, which holds the contract to provide ground handling services at TIA, have become inadequate due to the swelling number of travellers. 

NAC spokesperson Ram Hari Sharma said that they had issued bids to acquire two ramp buses with a capacity of more than 100 seats to handle the rise in the number of passengers. “However, it will take at least six months for the buses to arrive.” “So, as an interim measure, we have decided to lease two buses from Sajha.” He said that the lease deal with Sajha would be signed soon. 

According to airlines, a shortage of buses has been hindering smooth movement of passengers. Soaring passenger and aircraft traffic movement has led to TIA nearing saturation point, particularly with regard to parking and airspace. A shortage of ramp buses is the latest hindrance. 

“As almost all airlines have raised their frequency from last September, the existing shuttle service has been stretched to the limit by the increased passenger flow,” said Santanu Sen Gupta, chairman of the Airline Operators’ Committee-Nepal. 

“This year, TIA has observed a dramatic passenger growth even in December, traditionally the off season for tourism. This is a good sign, but infrastructure lapses remain.” There are nine parking bays at the country’s sole international airport, and the two passenger shuttle buses are not able to handle the rush, he said.   

The October-November period is the peak tourism season which normally sees more than 80 international flights daily. Currently, there are 28 international airlines connecting Nepal, and most of them have double daily flights. 

In the first nine months of 2016, TIA recorded 19,012 international flight movements. Likewise, passenger movement has grown 5.51 percent to 2.50 million in the first nine months of 2016, according to TIA statistics. 

In 2015, international air passenger traffic through TIA dropped for the first time in 13 years as travellers stayed away due to the April earthquake and a jet fuel shortage caused by an Indian trade embargo. 

According to TIA, the number of travellers passing through the international airport had plunged 8.37 percent to 3.21 million in 2015. Likewise, aircraft movement fell 2.37 percent to 26,563 flights.

Published: 04-01-2017 09:53

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