Election grounds over 350 domestic flights

- Post Report, Kathmandu
Kathmandu’s super busy airport observed record low aircraft and passenger traffic for the first time in many years- TIA Spokesperson Prem Nath Thakur

Dec 8, 2017-More than 350 domestic flights were grounded on Thursday, as most of the air passengers could not travel to airports due to restriction on operation of vehicles in 45 districts that went for second phase of federal parliamentary and state assembly polls.

However, international flights to and from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) were not affected, although passenger occupancy was relatively low compared to normal days, the airport authority said. 

“Kathmandu’s super busy airport observed record low aircraft and passenger traffic for the first time in many years,” said TIA Spokesperson Prem Nath Thakur. The country’s sole international airport handles more than 400 domestic flights and about 80 international flights per day.

On Thursday, TIA wore a deserted look and recorded only 50 domestic flights, including arrival and departure, with most of them flying to Pokhara and Lukla and few of them offering ‘mountain view’ flights early in the morning. Buddha Air operated single flight on Bharatpur sector. “There was no flight on rest of the routes,” Thakur said, adding, “The airlines were prepared for this. They did not sell their tickets for Thursday.” 

Nepal held first phase of federal parliamentary and state assembly elections in 32 mountainous and hilly districts on November 26. Thursday saw second phase of polls in remaining 45 districts.

“Overall, nearly 90 percent of domestic flights were grounded on Thursday because of elections,” said Prajol Thapa, chief of marketing and sales department of Simrik Airlines. “Airline companies will have to clear a huge backlog of disrupted flights on Friday.” 

On the international front, 64 flights arrived at and departed TIA as of 5pm on Thursday. Thursday proved to be an unusual day for international operators that were facing hours of delays at TIA in the recent days. “All international flight movements were on time today. There was no delay even for a second,” said Thakur.   

The traffic in Kathmandu Valley was thin as public transport vehicles, including buses, cars and two-wheelers, were kept off the roads until 7pm. October and November turned out to be bumper months for airlines due to the poor condition of highways. Airline officials said political leaders on the election campaign trail were frequent flyers.

According to TIA, domestic airline passenger traffic jumped 45.87 percent to 1.28 million during the January-July period. Domestic carriers received 403,487 additional fliers in the first seven months of 2017 compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, domestic flight movements swelled 37.68 percent in the first seven months of this year.

Published: 08-12-2017 08:55

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