The Nepal-China joint venture Himalaya Airlines has stopped direct flights between Yangon and Kathmandu a year and few days after they began due to low passenger volume in the sector.
Himalaya Airlines had offered the flight twice a week since March 2017, and then it suspended the flights for over two months due to a lack of profits, said UA Ticketing and Tours general manager U Lynn Zaw Wai Mang.
At present, there are no direct air link between Yangon and Kathmandu, and people have to fly via Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Dhaka to reach Nepal’s capital and vice versa to reach Yangon.
“Despite the 150 seat capacity of the aircraft the occupancy of aircraft used to be only 50%. And therefore there are no direct flight network after Airline stops Yangon to Kathmandu flight.
Previously, the airline had inaugurated its flight operation on Yangon route on Feb 25, 2017 as the fourth destination of the airline. But since, two months the flight operations have been halted and now totally discarded.
This is the first time an airline has flown direct between the two destinations since Union of Burma Airways now called Myanmar National Airlines – operated the route between 1989 and 1993.
According to the Myanmar Embassy in Nepal, 25,000 Myanmar pilgrims visited Nepal in 2016, and most of them went to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. A round-trip between Kathmandu and Yangon costs US$350 (about K472,200), inclusive of government taxes on Himalaya Airlines, U Lynn Zaw Wai Mang said.
He added that prior to the operations of Himalaya Airlines; passengers from Yangon had to pay US$ 9000 to reach Kathmandu. But Himalaya Airlines authorities are looking into the possibility of resuming the Yangon-Kathmandu flights within the year, U Lynn Zaw Wai Mang.
“We are trying to arrange resumption of the flights in September or October this year. We are calculating the possibilities from both sides,” he said.
The bad news about the temporary halt in the operations of Himalaya Airlines came a day after AirAsia chief executive officer Tony Fernandes said it had stopped negotiations on starting a new budget airline in Myanmar. “We might revisit that (plan to start a Myanmar-based budget airline) but we have decided not to go into Myanmar just yet,” he said.
For the past 16 years, Air Asia said in a statement, it has flown over 500 million passengers to over 130 destinations. “We started in 2001 with just two planes and 200 staff in Malaysia and carried 200,000 passengers. Today we have more than 200 planes and over 20,000 staff of 50 different nationalities,” Fernandes said.
AirAsia operates direct flights daily between Yangon-Bangkok, Yangon-Malaysia and Mandalay-Bangkok.
According to the Department of Civil Aviation, Myanmar has 10 registered domestic airlines.
Japanese airline company All Nippon Airways set up Asian Blue in 2016 in joint venture with local company Golden Sky World, which is owned by property and banking tycoon Shwe Than Lwin.
Japan’s ANA Holdings Inc last year dropped a plan to form an airline with Golden Sky World after authorities rejected their application.