A year after the lockdown to control the pandemic, many airlines have been affected by the loss of revenue. However, in Nepal Buddha Air has seen a 20% rise in traffic volume compared to the previous year after the lockdown was lifted.
It has proven that it is possible to ensure safe travel by adhering to health protocols. Now with the vaccine drives in many countries, including Nepal, there is an expectation that domestic air travel in Nepal will see another spurt.
Buddha Air, with its 14 aircraft, is Nepal’s largest domestic airline. Its passenger volume increased significantly with more than 6,500 passengers flying to 15 different destinations on a daily basis.
The airline has a total of 120 daily domestic flights are in the air with an average of 90% occupancy. In fact, Buddha Air, has not just survived the Covid-19 crisis, but has actually added two more ATR-72 to its fleet this year,
Unlike previous years, flight frequency to destinations such as Biratnagar, Pokhara, Bhairahawa, Simara, Bharatpur and Janakpur have doubled compared to the preceding years.
Part of the reason for the spurt in air travel is the comfort and safety of flying compared to long journeys by bus.
At the beginning of the pandemic last year, Buddha Air quickly formed a Covid-19 Committee that would overlook the health, sanitation, and safety measures required during the pandemic.
“We are following the BHA Covid-19 Prevention standard operating procedure developed based on the guidelines issued by the CAAN, IATA, and WHO in this regard,” explains Upendra Lal Shrestha, the head of the Covid-19 Committee at Buddha Air. “We are taking the utmost care to make sure that the aircraft is sanitised and follows health protocols described in the Standard Operating Procedure.”
All Buddha Air aircraft are thoroughly disinfected after each flight, and the airline ensures that all Covid-19 procedures are being followed. This includes safety practices that are followed from the time the passenger enters the airport to the moment they get off the aircraft at their destination.
When entering the airport, the passengers are required to wear masks and use hand sanitisers, and check-in counters have strict physical distancing rules.
Buddha Air has encouraged e-ticketing to make the process as contact-less as possible. Inside the aircraft, the passengers are required to wear masks at all times.
All crew are required to wear masks at all times. Those showing symptoms of fever are kept on leave. All staff and crew have been vaccinated with the first dose, and will soon bec getting their second ones.
“Even after that, we will be addressing the staff to wear masks at all times,” says Shrestha. “Buddha Air’s beliefs in PAAS travel, which stands for Passenger, Airport, Aircraft, and Staff have helped to impose safety measures at each step of the passenger’s air journey.”