Himalaya Airlines has decided to launch Kathmandu-Doha flights instead after failing to obtain clearance to operate services to New Delhi as per its original plan.
The carrier, a Nepal-China joint venture company, said on Monday that it would be starting regular flights to the Qatari capital on May 31.
It will be flying its new Airbus 320 from Kathmandu to Doha on a regular basis after conducting charter flights to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The airline had flown Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his entourage to Beijing during his official visit to China in March.
Raju KC, commercial general manager of Himalaya, said they would be operating three flights weekly to Doha initially. “We will soon be conducting daily flights to Doha on a regular basis,” he said.
According to him, the introduction of their fleet to international markets could help increase the inbound market share of Nepali airlines. “In the next five years, we have targeted to increase the market share of Nepali carriers to 50 percent from the present 5 percent.”
Due to the absence of competitive airlines in the country, much of Nepal’s international market has been secured by international airlines. Himalaya said its flight to Doha would depart Kathmandu at 11 pm while the return flight would leave Doha at 2:30 am. Vijay Shrestha, vice-president, administration of Himalaya, said they had created the flight schedule keeping the wishes of travellers in mind.
Himalaya had originally planned to fly the Kathmandu-Doha route from April 12. It will be the second carrier to connect Qatar and Nepal after Qatar Airways.
Shrestha said they would be delivering their service ‘on time performance’ basis and at competitive prices. “We are offering excellent customer service with a flavour of Nepali culture and at prices similar to those of budget carriers,” he said.
Himalaya has appointed Cleopatra Travels as its General Sales Agents that will be conducting passenger and cargo related services on behalf of the airline.
Apart from Doha, the company has been planning to operate flights to Delhi and various parts of China. Shrestha said they had already applied for a permit to link Delhi and that the paperwork was being processed. “We have also planned to extend services to Chengdu, Lhasa and Beijing in China in the near future.”
He said they had targeted to expand the fleet to 15 Airbus 320s in the next five years and connect Kathmandu with various cities in Asia and beyond. The airline acquired its first aircraft, an Airbus 320, on March 9.
“The company will introduce long-haul wide-body aircraft of the A330 family in due course of time to operate direct flights to Japan, Korea, Europe, Australia and North America,” Shrestha said.
It had previously planned to launch scheduled flights in October 2014, but the plan was deferred due to ‘some technical problems’. It was further delayed by the devastating April 25 earthquake.
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