Buddha Air has also started provincial flights that bypass Kathmandu. Pokhara is linked to Simara, Bhairawa, Bharatpur, Nepalganj, Dhangadi, Biratnagar and Bhadrapur. In future, it plans Biratnagar-Nepalganj and Bhairawa-Biratnagar flights.
Buddha Air has carried 18 million passengers since it was established in 1997. It is the only airline with a fully equipped maintenance hangar, and besides its own aircraft, does checks on Drug Air of Bhutan and NOVO Air of Bangladesh.
The second biggest airline is Yeti-Tara with 25% market share and operates the most domestic air routes with six ATR-72 500s as well as three DHC6- 300 Twin Otters to remote area airfields.
Yeti has also been a pioneer in reducing and offsetting its carbon foot-print and has been recognised by the UNFCC as Nepal’s first carbon-neutral airline.
Read also: Airlines hit hardest by Nepal’s fuel hike, Nepali Times
With state-owned Nepal Airlines Corporation having withdrawn most of its domestic operations due to mismanagement, the gap has been filled by private domestic airlines. Nepal Airlines’ six Chinese-made Y-12 and MA60s have been grounded for the last two years, and it only has two airworthy Twin Otters that are more than 35 years old that fly to a handful of STOL airfields.
The third domestic airline is Shree with 15% market share. Originally a helicopter operator, the airline now has a fleet of seven Bombardier aircraft, with 2 CRJ-200ER, 2 CRJ-700 and three Dash 8 Q400. Besides Pokhara, all its other destinations from Kathmandu are Tarai cities.
Among the other smaller airlines, Guna operates two Beechcraft 1900s and two Jetstream 41 bought from Yeti. Saurya Airlines operates one CRJ200. Remote area operator Sita Air is negotiating to expand its fleet of four Dornier Do228 with four ATR-72500s.
Read more: Nepal airlines may merge to survive, Raju Baskota