Kathmandu / DPA
Nepal’s domestic air passenger movement continued to shrink for four straight years, dropping 5.96 per cent in 2015, as a series of disasters struck the country denting travel demand.
According to the data of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), domestic carriers received 86,510 less flyers last year. These airlines carried 1.36 million passengers in 2015 against 1.45 million the year before. The figure includes the 72,394 passengers flown by seven domestic helicopter and single-engine companies.
Airline officials said that although the April 25 earthquake last year had briefly boosted air travel demand, the subsequent aviation fuel shortage hit airlines hard. Besides, high fares, bad weather conditions and a slowed economy led to a slump in air travel demand, they said.
Passenger movement has been on a constant decline since 2012 marking a departure from the robust growth rates seen since 2008 when airlines were flying high due to competitive airfares, constant protests and road blockades forcing travellers to take to the year, increased NGO/INGO staff movement after the peace process and a real estate boom.
Airlines saw a heady growth of 13 per cent in 2008 which jumped to 33 per cent in 2009 as they cut fares amid stiff competition. Although passenger movement increased 12.83 per cent in 2010, the growth rate started dropping in 2011 and has shown a negative growth since 2012.
The Nepali skies saw 65,865 flights during the review period, a drop of 3.89 per cent. According to the stats, Nepali skies recorded an average of 180 domestic flight movements daily.
The earthquakes had increased the domestic flight frequency dramatically when panic-stricken people started to travel to the Tarai plains, but a subsequent fuel shortage dampened the airline business,” said Ghanashyam Acharya, spokesperson for the Airlines Operators Association of Nepal.
The aviation fuel shortage that started in September last year lasted for more than five months. Domestic airlines were forced to halve their flight frequency during the crisis.