Kathmandu / DPA
International air passenger traffic through Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) dropped for the first time in 13 years as travellers stayed away due to the April earthquake last year and a jet fuel shortage caused by an Indian trade embargo.
According to TIA, the number of travellers passing through the country’s sole international airport plunged 8.37 per cent to 3.21 million in 2015. Likewise, aircraft movement fell 2.37 per cent to 26,563 flights.
International airlines serving Nepal had significantly reduced their flight frequency due to low demand following the tremor.
Subsequently, in September, TIA received another hit after it was forced to stop refuelling services for foreign carriers when India choked off the fuel supply. During the crisis, Nepal Airlines airlifted fuel to keep domestic planes in the air.
The first casualty of the decision to stop refuelling services was China Southern Airlines which totally suspended its Nepal service, and it remains closed till today. Subsequently, many airlines had slashed their frequency to Nepal due to the cost factor of flying to Nepal.
As the situation has returned to normalcy, airline officials expect international air passenger traffic to gain momentum.
“The two back-to-back disasters affected airline frequency and occupancy last year. But with things becoming normal, we expect seat demand to continue,” said Bharat Kumar Shrestha, chairman of the Airlines Operators’ Committee-Nepal.