KATHMANDU, July 17: To retain its dwindling market share, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) is preparing to launch direct flights to Doha of Qatar and Dammam of Saudi Arabia.
The national carrier will fly three times a week to the Gulf cities from October 29, according to NAC Spokesperson Saroj Kasajoo.
It, however, is yet to obtain final flight schedule for both the destinations.
Though NAC has been flying to Doha via Dubai, it is flying to the Saudi Arabian city for the first time. Saudi Arabia is one of the largest destinations for Nepali migrant workers. Every year more than 80,000 migrant workers fly to Saudi Arabia from Tribhuvan International Airport. Similarly, around 130,000 workers left for Qatar in the last fiscal year.
NAC´s share in total air passengers shrunk to 5 percent in the last fiscal year. The national carrier´s share is likely to shrink further as its monopoly on Kathmandu-Kuala Lumpur has ended after Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia started scheduled flights on the route, offering cheaper airfare.
At present, NAC is conducting 22 flights a week to five international destinations, including Bangkok and Hong Kong, with the help of its two ageing Boeing 757 aircraft.
Meanwhile, NAC has decided to stop flying to Dubai from September. “It will be difficult for us to bear double landing cost in two different destinations while offering connecting flights,” Kasajoo said, explaining reasons behind withdrawal of flights to Dubai.
The national carrier is also undecided about resuming flights to New Delhi. NAC had suspended flights to the Indian capital about eight months ago, stating that it would resume the flights from October.