Taking off

April 15, 2013 , by DREAMS, Leave your thoughts
Taking off » My Dreams Mag
Photo: Vikram Joshi
With an aim to provide direct air service between London and Kathmandu, a group of Nepalese entrepreneurs are set to introduce a new airline. 

NET Airways is going to be the new name in the Nepalese travel industry.

Based in Nepal with its parents company in the United Kingdom, the airline aims to connect London and Kathmandu in a convenient way, filling in the void of a direct air service between the two cities.

According to the Himalayan Yeti Nepalese Association, UK is the home to an estimated 50,000-plus Nepalese living, working, and studying in different areas.

Bikram Joshi, Founder Director of NET Airways, says he saw an opportunity to offer Nepalese easy access to their homeland and also provide service to the local community.

The airline plans to operate its maiden flight during the Dashain festival in October from London’s Gatwick airport. While the airline, in its first phase, will connect London, Bahrain, and Qatar from Kathmandu, it plans to fly to China, Japan, and Malaysia in the second phase.

Dreams caught up with Joshi to learn more about NET Airways.

DREAMS: When and how did the idea develop – to start a massive venture like NET Airways?

Joshi: It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention, and NET Airways is no different. Nepalese residing in the UK have had to suffer a lot while travelling back home. Especially if you are a frequent flyer then the hassle is even greater.

While flying to Nepal, it suddenly occurred to me that it would be great to have our own airline connecting us to home rather than relying on others.

I later discussed the idea with friends and family members, which was initially a write off and a laughing matter.  But slowly when people realised that I was serious and this could be done, the attitude changed.

Many people, including community leaders and business tycoons in Nepal and abroad still laugh at our idea. But I believe we can achieve this, have their views changed and join hands to work together.


Did you have any previous business background to start off a project of this magnitude?

Yes, I have been involved in business for the last eight years. Accounting and audit practice was my first venture or business or profession — however you want to take it. Then I started a money remittance company called NETFOX which specialised in remittance from UK to Nepal. I also have some interest in a restaurant and real estate business. These are my successful ventures, however, there were many other failed projects including a supermarket and jewellery shop.

I’m constantly learning from my experiences, which will help me in this project and others in future.


Why this particular business – airline industry?

I always say that Nepal needs a facelift. We’ve heard multiple times about the infrastructure development programmes and are still waiting on those undelivered promises. I think it’s a time to venture out for a cash cow while the rest of the country is working hard to deliver those infrastructure development future projects.

What else could have been better than airline, right? It’s glamorous, exciting and it will put Nepalese and Nepal into a global prospectus straight away.

In addition you have a cash flow as soon as you are in operation without having to wait for few years to have the return on investment.


Speaking about investment, how are you managing the funds considering that you’d need a massive investment?

The full form of NET is Nepalese Entrepreneur’s Team. Therefore we are encouraging Nepalese from different walks of life to participate and show their commitment to Nepalese entrepreneurship.

At present we are seeking an investment from private Nepalese investors, companies and organisations.  But there is a possibility that we might go public.

As in any other business there are some calculative risk, which we endeavour to minimise, and there is definitely a good reward for the risk taken.


Do you see any potential in it? What’s the market like?

It has a huge potential and a good market. We have more than 1 million air passengers coming into Tribhuvan International Airport.  However, Nepal Airlines has only two short range Boeings to cater them. As a result, we have many international carriers optimising on this opportunity.

We promote our country Nepal as a tourist destination and undertake various promotional activities across the globe; the irony is at the end of the conversation we have to recommend foreign airline for them to fly to Nepal.

We all know that if we have our own airline connecting directly to different parts of the world the tourism industry can grow and there will be no shortage of passengers. This will not only help the airline directly with an increase in passenger numbers, but all aspect of our economy as well.

In addition, the increase of Non Resident Nepalese population, migrant and labour/skilled professionals around the world also calls for the need of Nepalese carrier to connect them with their homeland.

It’s a call of time and it is high time we deliver.


But how are you going to compete with several other commercial airlines providing service to Kathmandu via Middle East and India?

We believe that there is no competition as we are offering a completely different product.

All other airlines have to fly via their point of origin resulting in a change of aircraft, lengthy transits, and sometime loss of luggage. NET Airways will offer a direct flight to Kathmandu avoiding all such problems. Therefore we do not feel that this service will raise any competition.


How is NET Airways going to be different?

Net Airways will be Nepalese; it will maintain Nepalese hospitality, promote Nepalese culture and represent Nepal. Therefore it does not need to be different. It will be rather original – Nepalese.

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