KATHMANDU, Sept 23: Leading domestic airlines Buddha Air has added one more 72-seater ATR 72-500 to its fleet. The new aircraft which has been procured under lease agreement of US $ 6.9 million with International Finance Corporation (IFC) landed at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on Sunday.
With the new aircraft, Buddha Air now nine aircraft- three ATR 72, three ATR42 and three B1900D.
The airlines at present holds 67 percent market share in the destinations that it operates in and hopes to increase that to 75 percent.
Rupesh Joshi, executive manager of Buddha Air said the airlines was focusing on punctuality and reliability of flights with the addition of new aircraft. “We will increase flight frequency in Biratnagar sector,” Joshi said. He further said the airlines would start using was the new ATR 72 in Dhangadi sector from Thursday. The route was being served by ATR72 until now.
The airlines in a press statement said that because of the congestion of TIA , it was facing flight delays and the additional aircraft will help the airlines "to create more on-time dispatch reliability". The airlines also plans to increase flight frequency to Pokhara and Bhairahwa with ATR42.
Buddha Air had signed purchase agreement with Franco-Italian aircraft maker ATR for the procurement of the aircraft on April 18, 2012. The airlines signed $ 6.9 million loan agreement with IFC in July. The payback period of the loan is eight years.
More than 150 ATR 72 aircrafts are in operation in South Asia and the Asia Pacific Region. The aircraft is considered ideal for the destination ranging from half an hour to one and half hour.
Buddha Air had started its operation in 1997 with a single 18-seater Beech 1900D aircraft. It offers 40 schedule flights daily to 10 destinations along with mountain flight. The destinations include Bharatpur, Simara, Biratnagar, Bhadrapur, Janakpur, Nepalgunj, Bhirahawa, Pokhara, Dhangadi and Tumlingtar.
Likewise, the airlines also offers four schedule flights a week to Varanasi of India .