Air Arabia floats budget carrier with Yeti in Nepal


Bangalore : Sharjah-based low-cost carrier Air Arabia is setting up a new budget carrier jointly with Yeti Airlines of Nepal to expand its operations in Asia and the Far East, the airline said Wednesday.

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“The new low-cost carrier will be based in Kathmandu, which will be our Asian hub to operate flights to destinations in south and central Asia, Far East and the Indian subcontinent,” Air Arabia chairman Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammad Al Thani said in a statement released here.

As a major shareholder in the joint venture, Air Arabia will apply its successful low-cost business model to operate Nepal’s first international budget carrier in a niche market.

The inaugural Kathmandu-Sharjah flight is scheduled at the end of this month and will be followed by operations to select destinations in India, Doha in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

“As we set sights on global expansion, we remain focussed on youthful, fast-growing markets where opportunities for growth are huge. Nepal, with a population of 29 million and a median age of 20, is among them,” the chairman said.

Listed on the Dubai financial market, five-year-old Air Arabia currently operates a fleet of 11 new Airbus A-320 aircraft, serving 37 destinations across the Middle East, North Africa, India and central Asia from its main hub at Sharjah in the UAE.

Yeti chairman Lhakpa Sonam Sherpa said as the first international carrier to receive an air operator certificate (after the state-run Nepal Airlines Corp), the new venture with Air Arabia would offer a choice for regional travellers to experience the benefits of a budget carrier.

Air Arabia is modelled on the lines of leading American and European budget airlines and its business model is customised to accommodate local preferences.

“Our focus is to make air travel more convenient through Internet bookings and lowest fares in the market along with high safety and service standards,” the statement said quoting the Sheikh.

As Nepal’s leading private domestic carrier, the decade-old Yeti offers both scheduled and chartered flights within the Himalayan country with a fleet of 10 aircraft, including DHC-6/300 Twin Otter and Jetstream 41.

Based in Kathmandu, Yeti serves major urban areas as well as remote Himalayan regions that are not accessible by road.