Buddha Air, Making Flying Possible For Everyo

Features Issue 191 Oct, 2017
Text by ECS Staff

Buddha Air, Making Flying Possible For Everyone

In a way, ‘flying cheap’ should have been two mutually exclusive concepts, but Buddha Air has made it their mission to make it possible. Their goal, to serve all passengers.

In a transportation scenario like ours, one can’t help but wonder at the importance of it. It’s not hard to picture it, either. As dusty and poor road conditions plague the haggard valley denizens, the situation is followed throughout the country, with very few places actually claiming to have road transport that’s enviable. For example, Chitwan (Bharatpur), which should have been the closest from the valley, taking not more than five hours of a traveler’s time, is instead, a 10 – 12 hour journey. Similar is the case with other places across our, fortunately or unfortunately, diverse geographical region; in other words, most of the destinations here. Filled with impatience and thinking about the poor condition of transportation, one can’t help but desire for a reasonable alternative.

And, a reasonable airborne alternative is what Buddha Air has been providing ever since its establishment. Something that Buddha Air’s Managing Director Mr. Birendra Bahadur Basnet proudly shares, “In domestic air destinations, the Nepal government has created an upper boundary keeping the local passengers in mind. It is to regulate the air fare, especially for remote destinations. As it happens, sometimes while conducting flights to these destinations, in the name of local passenger charter (LPC), some airlines charge 1.5 – 2 times the actual airfare, and they operate not more than one or two extra flights. Where we operate flights, we have a structured fare.

We are against overpricing tickets in the name of upper boundary or LPC. This performs a huge service to the passengers.”

Of course, the upper boundary comprises the prices of many components of aviation and operation, which is admittedly not cheap. But, Buddha Air’s structure and fair pricing is aimed at giving customers the best value for their money. Above all, it prevents other airlines from making ad hoc decisions that are not in favor of passengers. For example, the normal fare to Biratnagar is Rs.7,100, but Buddha Air’s minimal fare is Rs.4,200. This massive difference in the price encourages all kinds of people from all economic backgrounds to consider using their service. Not only that, the competitors are also forced to consider providing a competitive rate to the passengers.

Over all, with what is involved—long, bumpy rides, stress, etc.—flying is the best alternative out there, and Buddha Air’s meticulous pricing keeps their goal to connect Nepal to the Nepalis intact.

In their two decades of flying the Nepali skies, service to passengers has taken second spot only to safety. Buddha Air has invested millions for a flight’s safe ride. They use flight data monitoring (FDM) to monitor 100 percent of their flights. This allows them to keep track of the planes while they’re on the move, and correct if any irregularities are detected. If any anomalies are recorded, then they immediately train the pilots and enhance their skills. It enables them to not repeat the same event twice. Though the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) allows a pilot to fly for 100 – 120 hours in a month, Buddha Air doesn’t allow its pilots to fly for more than 60 hours.

Their dedication to smooth operations can be observed by the number of employees invested in it. There are 261 staff members for ground operations, 165 for flight operations, and 155 for technical assistance. Out of the total 876 staff, loyalty of 27 of them to the organization is as old as Buddha Air.

Sixty percent of these staff work from the hangar, which holds offices for technical, security, and flight and ground operations, allowing the staff and various departments to communicate conveniently and effectively. Buddha Air is the only domestic airline to have international standard closed door hangar in Nepal. While they are ready with spares and tools inventory for various aircrafts for maintenance, they are also the only airline in the country who diligently conduct two-yearly International Operational Safety Audit.

While Buddha Air is sensible of not over-charging their passengers, they have sensibly invested heavily for the training of their staff. In the last fiscal year 2016/ 2017, they invested millions in technical and non-technical training to train the staff, who have to go through a minimum of 60 hours of training to boost their skills on the job.

In 2016/ 2017, Buddha Air flew 63.27 percent of the total passengers, which is around 1.2 million passengers, the largest number in their organization’s history. The number is surely reflective of their thoughtfulness towards the passengers’ comfort, pocket, and safety, and their fair pricing will surely appeal to an increasing number of people who wish to travel quickly, conveniently, and reasonably.

Buddha Air operates daily flights to 13 locations, such as Nepalgunj, Biratnagar, Bharatpur, Pokhara, etc. and to major hubs of the country. From their first Everest Experience mountain flight in October 1997, they have come a long way in terms of service, safety, and excellence, with thousands of flights every year.

Buddha Air prides itself on its excellent treatment of passengers, and with it, the journey in the coming days is expected to be remarkable for both the organization and their travelers.