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Indian airlines seek more seats in Nepal sector
According to a report posted on the website of the Business Standard, the request follows a tremendous response from travelers to the launch of services between India and the two destinations.
The Nepali government has decided to approach the Indian MCA through the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) to plead the Jet Airways and Air Sahara case. The Sri Lanka government, too, is to urge the Ministry to accept the proposal in the hope of enticing more Indian tourists.

Jet Airlines launched its service between Kathmandu and New Delhi on May 14. However, Air Sahara is set to launch on July 21. Both of the airlines have been operating in the Colombo sector. Jet Airlines first flew to Colombo on April 1 while Air Sahara made its first flight to Colombo on May 21.

"We have witnessed over 90 percent growth in passenger traffic in the Kathmandu sector month on month," states the website, quoting Nalin Gagrani, Marketing Manager of Jet Airways.

"Even before we could start our flights to Kathmandu, we have received a good response, especially from Ahmedabad and Mumbai. We may have to stop taking bookings for the first few flights because of the rush," the website quotes a source at Air Sahara as saying,

Indian Airlines have been allotted 1,885 seats per week for Kathmandu and have been operating from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Meanwhile, both Jet and Sahara have been allocated 1,056 seats each week for Kathmandu.

"Among the passengers we are handling in the Kathmandu sector, there are many tourists from western India, mainly Gujarat. But we do not have a service direct to Kathmandu from Mumbai or Ahmedabad because of seat constraints," the website quotes Gurani.

Jet has been witnessing a rise of over 70 percent in passenger traffic each month in the Colombo sector. "We are allowed to operate 23 flights a week, but we are operating only seven as the traffic volume is not that high. But with more and more travel packages being introduced, these 23 flights could prove inadequate," the website further quotes Gagrani.

According to the website, Aditya Baral, Manager of Tourism Marketing and Promotion of NTB, said that due to seat restrictions, the tourism industry in Nepal faces occasional setbacks. "We will talk to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and also to the Government of India, asking that more seats be allocated to private airlines, specifically to Jet Airways, as we have recently tied-up with them for more tourism development activities in Nepal," the website quotes Baral.

The number of tourists visiting Nepal rose by 27 percent in 2003 over 2002. "This figure will go up, thanks to the private airlines," the website further quotes Baral.

(Source : The Kathmandu Post)