“The flights will be operated with 170-seater MD-82 aircraft,” said Ajay Simha of Orient Asia International, the general sales agent of the airline in Nepal.
Atsadawut Phuengsat, the airline's station manager in Nepal, said they decided to connect Nepal because of its growing popularity among foreign travelers. “The flights will also be helpful in luring religious tourists from Thailand to the birthplace of Gautam Buddha,” he said.
Hong Kong Express Airways recently announced that it would operate three flights a week on the Kathmandu-Hong Kong sector from Thursday.
Foreign airlines are finding Nepal a sought-after destination among tourists as peace has returned to the Himalayan nation. With the national flag carrier Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) grounded in endless problems and the traffic of Nepalese workers and corporate travelers rising to new heights, international carriers are also seeing opportunities galore in Nepal's skies.
The number of airlines offering services to Nepal has doubled during the last 13 months. Many airlines have expanded frequency, while some are in the process of doing so.
Notwithstanding the growth in the number of flights, a shortage of air seats continues to hold back the tourism industry. Over half a million tourists are expected to visit Nepal in 2007.
At a time when leading airlines are bringing packed flights to Nepal, NAC has been able to put only a single aircraft in the air. One of the airline's two Boeings is grounded in Brunei as the management did not get its extra engine overhauled in time while it scouted for deals paying a commission.
As if that was not enough, NAC is canceling all its international flights for nearly two weeks from December 18 as its only other plane is flying off to Brunei for a C-check.