Aviation: Private airline, Tashi Air, will resume its flights to Kathmandu from mid next month.

The airline had suspended flights to Nepal following the April earthquake.

Tashi Air commercial director Ugyen Tenzin said that almost 3,000 passengers booked on the Paro-Kathmandu sector prior to the earthquake had cancelled with the airline. With virtually no demand on the sector, the airline has temporarily cancelled flights to Nepal.

Tashi Air CEO Phala Dorji said that the operating cost of a return flight to Kathmandu is around Nu 1.3 million. He said that even with 60 local currency paying passengers onboard, the flight would not break even. He added that with 60 passengers even the cost of the fuel used, which is 45 percent of the flight’s cost, is not recovered.

There are 122 seats on the aircraft.

“It would be ridiculous for us to operate with a handful of people,” he said.

As a result, one of the airline’s two leased aircraft is usually on the ground at Paro airport to save costs.

Phala Dorji said that if there was demand there was no reason to not continue flying to Kathmandu. He pointed out that from a business perspective the airline should have both its leased aircraft in the air all day. “It pains us to keep aircraft on the ground,” he said.

Besides plan to resume flights to Kathmandu from next month, the airline is also planning to connect to New Delhi from September 16.

Phala Dorji said that demand for the flights between Paro and New Delhi is looking good. He pointed out that the national airline Drukair is doing very well on the Delhi sector.

Phala Dorji added that while Tashi Air would not be able to compete significantly in terms of tariffs and fares, it would concentrate on providing better services both in the air and on the ground.

By Gyalsten K Dorji