Shree Air set to make robust start with acquisition of first jet

16th Apr, 2017 | Tourism Mail Crew

KATHMANDU, April 16 : One of the Nepal's largest helicopter operator, Shree Airlines on Wednesday welcomed its first 50-seater Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ-200) as part of its plan to diversify and tap into Nepal’s expanding air travel market.

The aircraft was flown from Japan via China. The airline plans to begin commercial passenger service soon.

Shree Airlines has become the second Nepali carrier to fly Bombardier aircraft after Saurya Airlines.

The airlines said its other two jets—78-seater CRJ-700 and 50-seater CRJ-200—will arrive next week.

Shree has been allotted six sectors—Bhadrapur, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, Nepalgunj, Dhangadhi and mountain flight. Airline officials said the reduced travel time offered by jet aircraft would help them to attract travellers and break the duopoly of Buddha Air and Yeti Airlines on trunk routes.

Currently, Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines, Simrik Airlines, Saurya Airlines and Nepal Airlines serve domestic trunk routes. Shree will be hiring at least 200 more personnel for its expansion project. Started in 1999, it currently has six MI-17 and four Eurocopter AS350 B3e helicopters.

Shree had received a no objection certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) in March to buy or lease aircraft, eight months after the carrier applied to begin fixed-wing operations.

Although, Shree had planned to launch commercial operations by the end of 2016, stringent AOC requirements forced it to push back its launch dates. The airline said it would be spending Rs2 billion on its expansion project that is expected to shake up the domestic aviation sector which seems to have quietened down of late.

According to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Nepal’s domestic air passenger movement jumped 28.85 percent to 1.75 million in 2016, as travellers chose to fly rather than drive over bone-jarring national highways.