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Saarc 2014

Air ticket prices reach sky-high as travel demand swells


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KATHMANDU, APR 15 - Fares on almost all the international carriers serving Kathmandu have taken off with hordes of travellers chasing scarce air seats. Airlines from the Gulf, India, China and Malaysia, in particular, have jacked up their ticket prices. What’s more, fares to Nepal from US and Europe have doubled.

According to travel agencies, it takes more than two to three days to book a seat on some sectors and travellers have to pay double. Tickets on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector were being sold for Rs 26,000 to Rs 30,000 on Friday compared to Rs 13,000 to Rs 14,000 a month ago. “If you want to fly to Delhi within two to three days, you have to shell out Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000 to get a ticket,” said a travel agent. Low-cost carriers (LCCs) like Spice Jet and IndiGo have been charging up to Rs 16,000 to Rs 18,000 for a one-way ticket, up from Rs 10,000 a month ago.

“Almost all the seats on Indian carriers are sold out until April-end on the Kathmandu-Delhi-Kathmandu sector,” said Deepak Basnet, ticket executive at Osho World Nepal.

Normally, on Indian sectors, tickets cost Rs 15,000 if airlines have 70 percent seat bookings; and if occupancy exceeds 80 percent, prices jump to Rs 40,000.

What makes tickets on the Kathmandu-Delhi-Kathmandu sector expensive is the massive increase in traffic during the April-May period, the busiest tourism season in Nepal when it receives hordes of summer vacationers from India.  Travel agencies said tickets were in short supply as these days most Nepali migrant workers were opting to travel to their job destinations via Delhi. Around 45,000 Nepali migrant workers leave for the various labour destinations monthly with an equal number of returnees flying in the opposite direction.

According to travel trade entrepreneurs, as Jet Airways was not able to cater to increased demand on its Kathmandu-Delhi flights, it raised the frequency to two flights daily on the Kathmandu-Mumbai sector.  

Another busy sector is the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) where airlines have jacked up ticket prices by 50-60 percent. A one-way ticket on Nepal Airlines for the Kathmandu-Doha sector costs Rs 35,000.

Tickets on Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways cost Rs 40,000 and Rs 42,000 respectively. In normal times, the airfare on the sector is Rs 22,000 to Rs 25,000. LCCs like Fly Dubai and Air Arabia are charging Rs 32,000 on the sector, up from Rs 18,000 to Rs 20,000. However, ticket prices on the Doha-Kathmandu sector remains unchanged at Rs 22,000 due to low occupancy, travel agencies said.  

“It’s a marketing policy of airlines .

If you book your ticket one or two months in advance, you will get the cheapest fare,” said Bharat Shrestha, president of the Airlines Operating Committee (AOC). “After the advance booking, travel demand prompts airlines to raise airfares.”

In addition, hikes in fuel prices and various taxes at Kathmandu’s airport are passed on to the passenger that makes airfares more expensive, Shrestha said, who is also an airport manager of Oman Air.  

Airfares on the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur sector have soared 60-70 percent due to the onset of the peak tourist season and heavy movement of Nepali migrant workers. The sector is served by six airlines .

A one-way ticket on the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur flight costs Rs 30,600 on Nepal Airlines. Malaysia Airlines and LCC Air Asia charge Rs 35,000 and Rs 32,000 respectively. During normal times, a ticket costs Rs 18,000. Thai Airways, Biman Bangladesh and Jet Airways also link Kuala Lumpur via their respective countries.

With summer holidaymakers packing flights to Nepal, fares for inbound travellers from European and US destinations have doubled. As airlines connecting Nepal from the long-haul market segment are almost full, airfare has increased significantly, said Basnet.  

Travel agencies reported that a ticket from New York to Kathmandu costs Rs 120,000 at present, up from Rs 65,000 a month ago. Likewise, the London-Kathmandu airfare has jumped to Rs 115,000 from Rs 55,000.

Airfares on the long-haul sector rises during the April-May and October-November periods which are Nepal’s two major tourist seasons. Fares from France and Germany have gone up to Rs 100,000 while fares on the Sydney-Kathmandu sector have remained unchanged at Rs 73,000.

Meanwhile, a surge in arrivals from China has induced Chinese carriers to hike fares by 50-60 percent. Airfares on the Kunming-Kathmandu flight have risen to Rs 38,000 from Rs 22,000. Similarly, fares on the Chengdu-Kathmandu flight have swelled to Rs 45,000 from Rs 30,000.

The Guangzhou-Kathmandu sector is the busiest sector at present with a one-way ticket costing Rs 60,000, up from the normal Rs 30,000. According to travel agencies, air seats on the flight are sold out until April. For May, ticket prices have been set at Rs 40,000.

Posted on: 2014-04-15 10:10