Thursday, July 5, 2012

NAC reduces airfare on Ktm-Kuala Lumpur route

The ailing national flag carrier has reduced its airfare and increased flight frequency on its lucrative sector — Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur — as competition is growing with the entry of low-cost Air Asia and soon to be launched Malaysia Airlines on the route.
"Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has reduced its one-way airfare to Kuala Lumpur by Rs 5,000 to Rs 16,500 (economy class) and Rs 21,500 (business class) excluding tax," spokesperson at NAC Saroj Kasaju said, adding that the weekly six flights to Kuala Lumpur has also been increased to seven.
The corporation that has been flying on the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur route since March 31, 2003 started feeling the heat after Malaysia's low cost airlines, Air Asia, started flights on the route from July 3 with a competitive airfare mainly targeting Nepali migrant workers.
After, Air Asia – a budget airline of Malaysia — which started scheduled flights on the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur route, Malaysia Airlines will also introduce a thrice weekly Kuala Lumpur-Kathmandu flight from September 1.
A two-class configured Boeing 737-800 aircraft with 144 economy class seats and 16 business class seats will be used to fly to Kathmandu, according to Malaysia Airlines that has planned to further strengthen its regional market presence according to its business plan announced on December 7, 2011.
"It is a timely addition to our network where Malaysia and Nepal can mutually benefit from various commercial relations including trade, investment and tourism promotions," said Malaysia Airlines regional senior vice-president Malaysia and ASEAN region Muzammil Mohamad, adding that Kathmandu has a great potential, especially during the year-end holiday season.
"Kathmandu, which is surrounded by serene mountains, is a hub for independent travellers and a growing vacation spot catering to all budgets," he said, adding that Kathmandu is a perfect place for those who yearn for a relaxing year-end holiday or even a challenging mountain climbing adventure. "We also foresee and welcome the labour market traffic from Nepal to Malaysia to use this direct connection."
In total, Malaysia Airlines will offer a capacity of 960 seats in both directions each week, he said.
In conjunction with the introduction of this new route, Malaysia Airlines is offering all-in return economy class promotional fares of RM1,200 (Rs 33,640) for travel from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru to Kathmandu. Economy class travel from Kota Kinabalu and Kuching starts at only RM1,878 (Rs 52,645).
However, Nepal Airlines that was the only airline flying directly from Kathmandu to Kuala Lumpur with six flights a week since the last one decade claimed that it is still more competitive.
In a day, around 400 to 450 people fly to Malaysia through direct and indirect flights out of Nepal. "Out of which, Nepal Airlines carries 190 passengers to Malaysia every day," Kasaju added.
Air Asia has two flights a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays with its 377– seater Airbus A 330 that has 12 business class seats and 365 economic class seats. It has offered a competitive rate of Rs 11,000 and a round trip at Rs 20,000 excluding tax.
But director commercial of NAC Madan Kharel thinks that it will not impact the number of passengers that NAC carries. "However, the introduction of new direct airlines will definitely hamper business of indirect flights to Malaysia,” he added. Biman Bangladesh flies on Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur route indirectly.
“We still have more than 90 per cent of seats occupied on the route,” said Kharel. NAC has projected an annual income of Rs 1.85 billion from the Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur flights by the end of the current fiscal year 2011-12.

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