Nepal's aviation sector is set to see a boom in the coming months as another Indian private airline begins operations to Kathmandu and Nepali airlines add aircraft.
India's private Sahara Air is to begin daily Kathmandu-Delhi flights in September with Boeing 737-800 aircraft. This will bring to four daily flights between the two capitals, the other flights are operated by Royal Nepal Airlines, Indian Airlines and Jet Airways. Sahara is also looking at connecting Kathmandu to Kolkata, Mumbai and even Lucknow.
Royal Nepal Airlines is back to full fleet strength of two Boeing 757s, and expects its severely-disrupted schedules to get back to normal. Nepal's flag carrier also hopes to order two brand new Boeing 737-800s directly from the manufacturer, and is currently doing a detailed profitability study. Managing Director Mohan Khanal told us: "We will use the planes for our shorter Indian routes, and deploy the 757s on the longer Hong Kong, Bangkok, Dubai and Singapore flights."
An ICAO-supported study of the airline's assets are also underway, and the final report is expected in three months. The ICAO team is expected to recommend that Royal Nepal Airlines be partially privatised by selling 45 percent of its shares to a reputed international carrier, 45 percent to be retained by the government and 10 percent to be sold to the airline's staff.
Meanwhile, Cosmic Air is expected to be the first Nepali private domestic carrier to operate jets and start international flights by end-August. The airline is adding two second-hand Fokker 100 jets and begin operations to Delhi and Dhaka. Cosmic, which operates a fleet of Dorniers and SAAB 340 turboprops on domestic routes also wants to fly Kathmandu-Bhairawa-Lucknow.