Kathmandu Airport to roll out heavy discount offers for midnight flights

KATHMANDU (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) - The move is aimed at helping the congested airport deal with rapidly rising passenger numbers next year when Visit Nepal 2020 will begin.

Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport has decided to roll out a heavy discount offer for international airlines flying after midnight in a bid to help the congested airport deal with rapidly rising passenger numbers.

The scheme is expected to begin from January next year and airlines operating after midnight are expected to get heavy discount on landing and parking charges, said Raj Kumar Chettri, general manager at the airport.

The airport moved to launch the scheme following the instruction from the newly appointed Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai. According to Chettri, the scheme has been targeted for the upcoming Visit Nepal 2020 campaign that aims to bring 2 million tourists.

“Following the minister’s instruction, we held a meeting on Tuesday with airline representatives and asked them to submit written proposals in order to gauge their interest in operating flights after midnight,” Chettri said, adding that Nepal Airlines Corporation which looks after the ground handling services at the airport has committed to provide heavy discounts on the charges.

“The airlines have been given two weeks to submit their plan. After receiving their proposal, we will table it at the board of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal for approval,” he said. “We have estimated that airlines could receive at least 25 percent of discount.”

Currently, airlines who operates during the lean times (early morning to 1pm) are given a 15 percent discount. The 1pm to 6pm time slot is considered the peak travel time at the airport.

According to airport officials, the ground handling charges for A320 and A330 sized jets are $2,025 and $3,960 respectively. Nepal Airlines Corporation earns around Rs 4.5 billion annually from ground handling and it has become the troubled national carrier’s bread and butter.

As the country’s sole international airport will be closed for seven hours daily from 11:30 pm to 6:30 am next day from September 1 to December 31 for the renovation of the taxiway, the discount scheme will be launched from January, Chettri said. After the renovation of the taxiway, the airport is expected to open round-the-clock.

Tribhuvan International Airport handled 11,898 travellers daily in 2018, making it the busiest year for the country’s sole international aerial gateway.

According to the airport figure, 4.34 million international passengers travelled through the airport last year. That marked an 11.70 percent increase over 2017.

Passenger traffic at Nepal’s sole international airport has been growing since 2003, except for an 8 percent drop in 2015 when the country was struck by a severe earthquake. There were a total of 129,511 flights over Nepali skies, with 74 percent of them being domestic flights.

Recently, the tourism entrepreneurs had apprised the government that price of jet fuel in Nepal is the most expensive in the world or almost double compared to the South Asia region.

For example, jet fuel price in India is $600 per kilolitre and in the Middle East, it costs $550 per kilolitre. In Nepal, the fuel price is $1,050 per kilolitre.

In 2016, the parliamentary International Relations Committee had directed the Supplies and Tourism ministries to set the prices of jet fuel as per the market rate but the directives have not been implemented.


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