Wataniya Airways to enter Nepal in November

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- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 1, 2017-

Wataniya Airways of Kuwait has been granted permission to operate flights to Nepal. It will be the first airline from Kuwait to serve Kathmandu when it begins flights by November. Wataniya will be operating a daily service. 

“The carrier received an operating authorisation on Monday,” said Pramod Nepal, under-secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. “The service is expected to benefit Nepali migrant workers in Kuwait,” he said. 

As there is no direct air connection, Nepalis have to travel via Saudi Arabia. “A direct flight is also expected to make travelling cheaper,” he said, adding that the flight was likely to increase tourist movement from Kuwait to Nepal. 

Wataniya resumed services in July after ceasing operations in 2011, according to Reuters. Wataniya closed after three years in the business due to its financial situation and political instability in the Middle East. 

Wataniya operates two narrow-body Airbus A320s and plans to launch services to 16 destinations in Egypt, the UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, India, Pakistan and Europe, according to Reuters. 

Kuwait is the fifth biggest employer of Nepali workers, the Department of Foreign Employment said. In the last fiscal year, 12,507 Nepalis received permits to work in Kuwait. In 2015-16, the number of job aspirants totalled 10,049 individuals. Nepal and Kuwait signed an air service agreement (ASA) in January 2006.

Since 1963, Nepal has signed bilateral ASAs with 38 countries, New Zealand and Vietnam being the latest countries. This provides 6 million seats per annum to and from Nepal. However, less than 40 percent of this capacity is being utilized. Currently, 28 international airlines are operating flights from Kathmandu to 22 cities in Asia and Europe.

International passenger traffic in Nepal swelled 9.12 percent to 3.51 million in 2016, according to Tribhuvan International Airport. International air passenger traffic through TIA plunged 8.37 percent to a 13-year low of 3.21 million in 2015 after the April earthquake scared away tourists. 

Airport officials expect 2017 to be another big growth year as several airlines have increased their frequency and launched new services, signaling a dramatic growth in tourist arrivals.

Published: 01-11-2017 08:18

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