SpiceJet to spice up Nepali air horizon


KATHMANDU: SpiceJet, India’s most preferred low fare airline has announced that it will be flying on short haul international routes including Kathmandu from May-June, 2010 when it completes the pre-requisite of flying for five years before being allowed to operate internationally. Talking to The Himalayan Times, company vice-president Kamal Hingorani said that SpiceJet will start its daily flight from New Delhi to Kathmandu from June. He also informed that SpiceJet also plans to serve Southeast Asia and Gulf countries from May 2010.

Aiming to deliver the lowest air fares with the highest consumer value, SpiceJet operates a fleet of 19 Boeing 737-800/737-900ER aircraft, with 129 flights daily to 18 Indian destinations including Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bagdogra, Chennai, Coimbatore, New Delhi, Guwahati, Goa, Hyderabad, Jammu, Jaipur, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Srinagar, Varanasi and Visakhapatnam.

The Kathmandu flights will see the start of SpiceJet’s foray abroad, he added. According to Hingorani, the revised Air Service Agreement (ASA) also makes it easy for SpiceJet to start Nepal operations. Civil aviation officials of Nepal and India on September 10 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the revision of bilateral ASA and a technical accord, facilitating five-fold increase in air seats between the two countries. Hingorani also expressed confidence that the new effort would be appreciated by both business and leisure travellers alike.

Zenith Travel has been appointed the General Sales Agent (GSA) for SpiceJet with immediate effect. “It is an honour for us to represent SpiceJet. We are very happy with this partnership and expect to meet the growing demands of travellers in the country,” said Zenith Travels managing director Joy Dewan.

Tourism entrepreneurs are highly encouraged by the announcement. SpiceJet’s entry in Nepal is going to cause ripples in the country’s aviation and tourism sectors, said Samrat Tours and Travels chief executive officer CN Pandey. The budget airline SpiceJet was also honoured with World Travel Market Award for multi-channel approach in distribution in 2009. Meanwhile, Kingfisher Airlines, a private Indian airline that boasts of “premium first class service on domestic route”, will soon spread its wings overseas with flights to Nepal.

The three-year-old company run by UB Group has begun recruitments in Nepal for flights likely to commence from July-end, sources told. The first flights will likely be from Mumbai or Bangalore to Kathmandu via New Delhi, sources added. Following its merger with Deccan, Kingfisher now connects 64 cities with 484 daily flights. On December 2, Jet Airways introduced a direct five-days a week service between Mumbai and Kathmandu. With this service, the number of Jet flights between the two countries has gone up to 26.

Meanwhile, Buddha Air, the country’s private airlines, has also said it will start its service from Pokhara to Lucknow of India from the first week of March 2010. It has planned to start with two to three flights a week in the beginning.

India will be the major market for Nepal in the upcoming Nepal Tourism Year 2011 campaign, officials at the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation said. They said that they took positive note of the interest shown by foreign airlines to operate flights in the country in view of NTY 2011 that aims to bring in one million tourists including 2,62,000 from India. Tourist arrival from India during November was up by 16.1 percent, according to Nepal Tourism Board.

This is the sixth consecutive month that country has witnessed a growth in international tourist arrivals.

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