Kathmandu, January 13, 2017:Â Nepal Airlines has taken the top spot in international passenger carriage for the first time in years, flying 275,701 travellers during the first nine months of 2016.
According to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), the national flag carrier bumped Qatar Airways down to second place with a massive 74.63 percent growth in passenger carriage.
Nepal Airlines began flying high after inducting two new Airbus A320 aircraft into its fleet last year. It resumed flights to Dubai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi soon after acquiring the new jets, and now serves eight international destinations. The carrier has been able to boost its market share on international routes to 11 percent.
â€œNACâ€™s market share will more than double this year after it inducts its first wide-body Airbus A330-200 jet into its fleet,â€ said Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane, joint secretary of the Tourism Ministry and a board member of NAC.
Meanwhile, international airline passenger traffic through TIA increased 5.51 percent in the first nine months of 2016. According to TIA, the 28 international airlines serving Kathmandu flew 2.50 million passengers between January and September last year.
International air passenger traffic through TIA had dropped for the first time in 13 years as travellers stayed away due to the 2015 earthquake and a jet fuel shortage caused by an Indian trade embargo.
Airline-wise, Qatar Airways slipped to second position in terms of passenger carriage in the first nine months of 2016. Doha-based Qatar Airways flew 258,884 passengers during the period January-September last year, up 3.69 percent.
Low-cost carrier Air Arabia secured the third spot, posting a strong 24.62 percent growth. It flew 252,797 passengers.
Indian carrier Jet Airways slipped to the fourth spot, down 1.56 percent. The carrier flew 233,759 passengers in the period January-September 2016.
No-frills carrier Fly Dubai posted a 15.82 percent growth with 227,755 passengers. Likewise, Oman Air saw the strongest passenger growthÂ of 20.70 percent in theÂ review period. It flew 134,932 passengers.
Indiaâ€™s flag carrierÂ Indian Airlines slippedÂ to the seventh spot with the number of passengers dropping 17.59 percent to 134,757. Malaysian-based low-cost carrier Air AsiaX saw itsÂ passenger numbers growthÂ by 1.52 percent to 125,645.
Thai Airways saw its passenger growth jump by a whopping 30.53 percent to 122,487 in the first nine months of 2016. Etihad Airways saw its passenger numbers drop 15.28 percent to 102,542. Start-up Nepali carrier Himalaya Airlines carried 17,604 passengers in the first nine months last year.
ByÂ Sangam Prasain