Private airline NovoAir is selling two of its fleet to Nepal’s Yeti Airlines due to declining domestic passenger numbers. Two ATR-72 model turboprop national aircraft will be handed over to Yeti Airlines very soon.
Mofizur Rahman, managing director of NovoAir told Independent Digital, ‘The number of passengers on domestic routes has decreased by about 30%. As a result we are selling two of the seven aircraft in our fleet to Yeti Airlines. The remaining 5 aircraft will operate flights to domestic destinations.
In 2011, NovoAir started domestic flights with three Embera 145 model jet aircraft. Later, the flight operation started with the ATR-72 model aircraft made by France, excluding the Embera aircrafts step by step.
At present the number of domestic airports in the country is seven. Apart from NovoAir, the national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines and the private US Bangla Air and Air Astra provide domestic passenger services.
After the launch of Padma Bridge, the biggest infrastructure in the country, the passenger pressure at Barisal and Jessore airports has reduced a lot. As a result, domestic airlines have reduced the number of flights at these two airports by two thirds.
Nepal’s portal Aviation Nepal says the company was hit hard when an ATR-72 aircraft of Yeti Airlines crashed in Pokhara a year ago. The airline used to bring passengers from Bangladesh with two planes of the same model. Recently, Yeti is trying to increase the number of aircraft of this model in its fleet.
Yeti recently signed an agreement to purchase two ATR-72 aircraft from Airstream International, a UK-based company. Two aircraft of the same model are also being purchased from NovoAir. One of these is scheduled to arrive in Nepal next week and another in February.
Yeti Airlines spokesperson Sudarshan Bertula said, ‘In the future, we want to add a total of 10 ATR-72 model aircraft to the fleet. Adding NovoAir’s two ATRs will take our number of aircraft to seven.’
ATR-72 is a turbo-propeller aircraft. These aircraft are generally quite popular for operating short-haul destinations. NovoAir’s ATRs can carry up to 78 passengers. These types of aircraft are more fuel efficient than jet engine aircraft.
The French-made ATR-72 can run a maximum of 2,65 km at an altitude of 25,000 feet at a speed of 510 km/h on full fuel. But if the seat is full, it can go a maximum of 1 thousand 952 km.
That means the aircraft can fly for about four hours continuously on full fuel. And when the seat is full, it can fly for about 3 and a half hours.
Sudarshan said that due to the shortage of aircraft, the company is not able to provide flights despite the demand. Yeti wants to focus on destinations where flights are currently in operation.
On the other hand, NovoAir mainly serves seven domestic airports in the country. Apart from this, they also have flights to Kolkata, India. The airline has recently planned to increase flights to international destinations. For this, the private A Airlines is trying to procure three Airbus A-321 model aircraft from the European manufacturer Airbus.
NovoAir managing director Mofizur Rahman said, ‘We are trying to procure three Airbuses. These were supposed to be inducted into the fleet in September last year. But we took some time because of the national elections. After the election, the process started again. The first of the three is expected to join the fleet within the next four months. The rest will also come to the country step by step.’
NovoAir wants to initially fly to 6 international destinations with the new aircraft. These include popular international destinations such as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.