Turkish goes 3 flights a week

Turkish Airlines Airbus 330-300 at Kathmandu airport last week pushing back for a 7 hour flight to Istanabul.

Turkish Airlines, the only airline operating direct flights between Kathmandu from Europe, is increasing its flight frequency to three a week from 3 October. The airline, which used to operate daily on the Kathmandu-Istanbul sector just marked its seventh anniversary of connecting Nepal to the world.

“We are increasing our flight frequency to weekly three flights, and bookings are slowly picking up,” says Turkish Airlines manager for Nepal Abdullah Tuncer Kececi. “With protocols for tourist arrival and health safety protocols, we think Nepal’s nature and adventure will be one of the first choices of international passengers.”

Airline traffic is growing after Covid-19 grounded most airlines around the world and reduced international air travel to 10% of what it used to be. Turkish Airlines, which flies to more destinations than any other carrier, flew 2.9 million passengers in August. The airline is now flying regularly to 200 of its more than 300 destinations worldwide.

Devendra KC of Tribhuvan International Airport said the government had lifted restrictions on the number of flights because it was confident it could address health issues.

“We have been able to cope with the present volume of passengers, and although it will be challenging, we are confident that we can handle the greater numbers at Kathmandu airport,” he said.

Airlines have also been upgrading their on board and airport safety protocols. Turkish Airlines, for example, says that there is through disinfection of aircraft cabin after every flight, there are HEPA filters on board that can remove 99.97% of all particles with diameters up to 0.3 microns. With a 7 hour flight time, the Istanbul connection is the longest distance direct flight from Kathmandu at present.

“Hygiene expert cabin crews are appointed on our flights, and they are in charge of lavatory disinfection and enforcement of all on-board safety and social distancing measures,” Kececi told Nepali Times.

Turkish Airlines Nepal manager Abdullah Tencer Kececi.

The Visit Nepal Year 2020 secretariat had signed a partnership agreement with Turkish Airlines in December 2019 to promote Nepal in the carrier’s international network. The goal was to bring 2 million tourists to Nepal in 2020, but the campaign had to be called off because of the Covid-19 crisis.

“As the airline flying to the most destinations in the world, Turkish Airline’s vision from day one has been to connect Nepal to the world,” Kececi said. “Nepal is a tourism destination for us, and we hope that as things get back to normal we will continue to be a partner for Nepal’s tourism and aviation industry into the future.”

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