By Vasantha Ganesan
Business Times, July 5, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia X, Malaysia's budget long-haul carrier, has obtained the rights to operate four weekly flights between Kuala Lumpur and Kathmandu, Nepal.
However, AirAsia X has decided to start with flights on Tuesdays and Thursdays for now, with the first flight having started two days ago.
"We have started a twice weekly scheduled flight to Kathmandu. Currently, the initial flights are sold out to our Nepal sales agent.
"We expect to launch online sales for subsequent flights in the next one to two weeks," AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Ozman Rani told Business Times.
"Our rights from the Malaysian government so far is only four times weekly... frequency increases will depend on demand over the first few months," Azran added.
According to Republica, a Nepal publication, an Air Service Agreement (ASA) between Nepal and Malaysia allows Malaysian carriers to operate up to 21 weekly flights.
AirAsia X's entry has ended the monopoly of Nepal Airlines on the route. Nepal Airlines has six weekly flights connecting the two Asian capitals.
Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines said in a press statement it would commence three direct flights a week between Kuala Lumpur and Kathmandu effective September 1.
The airline will offer a total of 960 seats each week on its Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
MAS' regional senior vice-president (Malaysia and Asean region) Muzammil Mohamad said it was a timely addition to its network.
"We see great potential in Kathmandu, especially during the forthcomng year-end holiday season," he said.
The Nepali labour community is the third largest in Malaysia after Indonesia and Bangladesh, accounting for 9.7 per cent of the foreigners here.
In the first 11 months until middle of last month, Malaysian employers hired a total of 12,945 Nepalis.
Meanwhile, another Nepal-based publication has reported that Incentive Tours and Travels, the general sales agent of AirAsia X in Nepal, has a one-way promotional fare of Rs11,000 (RM397) and return fares at Rs20,000 (both excluding taxes).
The normal fare is expected to range between Rs11,000 and Rs15,000.
MAS in its statement said it was offering all-in return economy class promotional fares at RM1,200 from Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Baru to Kathmandu.
Economy class travel from Kota Kinabalu and Kuching starts at RM1,878.
Booking period for this fare is from next Monday to July 16, and is valid for travel between September 1 and December 31.