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Airlines lower Dashain ticket prices after profiting from initial high rates

KATHMANDU: In response to mounting public criticism over their steep pricing during the high-demand Dashain festival, domestic airlines have decided to lower airfares.

Following a meeting with the Minister for Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation, Sudan Kiranti, on Sunday, representatives of the aviation industry agreed to adjust their pricing. The Airlines Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN) has announced reductions of up to Rs 2,500 per trip.

Earlier, airlines had raised ticket prices by as much as Rs 6,000 per person when bookings for the festive season opened. Consequently, the cost of a Kathmandu-Dhangadhi flight had surged to a staggering Rs 17,600.

Critics argue that the airlines only made these adjustments at the eleventh hour, after most Dashain tickets had already been sold at exorbitant prices. The airlines, however, have refused to lower the prices of already sold tickets.

Rupesh Joshi, the director of Buddha Air, stated that most of the festive season tickets had already been sold at the higher rates. “We will reduce fares for the remaining unsold tickets.”

Despite their increased prices, airline operators maintain that they have adhered to rates established seven years ago. They cite rising equipment costs, fluctuations in the US dollar exchange rate, and the government’s imposition of value-added tax on airfares as reasons for their higher pricing.

According to a press release from the AOAN, the airlines plan to gradually decrease the sale of expensive air tickets while increasing the availability of more affordable ones. They will also reduce rates for travelers returning to Kathmandu during the festivals.

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