August 15, 2023: Thai Airways, which has a history of international flights in Nepal, is set to resume regular flights once again. Due to COVID-19, Thai Airways had been closed for three years and had sought permission from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal to resume regular flights for Nepali citizens. According to the information provided by Ganendra Bhul, an official at the authority, Thai Airways has requested permission to start flights from November 1.

“The permission for regular flights has been requested by Thai Airways. Once certain processes are completed, the authority will grant permission,” said Bhul, adding that the return of the airline for regular flights is a happy development for everyone, as the airline had a history of serving Nepal.

Due to the closure caused by COVID, various airlines have increased competition in the market by conducting regular flights. After COVID, six Chinese airlines have been added to regular flight schedules. Currently, 30 international airlines are operating flights, and Thai Airways is preparing to join this group from November.

As per information provided by Bhul, in the past, Thai Airways conducted 14 flights at seven-hour intervals under the wide-body aircraft to Narobodi. This had broken the syndicate held by airlines like Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines. “Now, Thai Airways will compete in the market with regular flights,” he added. “Moreover, the fare for long-haul transit flights to other countries will also be more affordable.”

Presently, three airlines are conducting regular flights between Kathmandu and Bangkok. Among them, Thai Smile, a regional airline based in Bangkok, operates flights from Kathmandu to Bangkok since Asar 17, 2079 BS. It is the sister organization of Thai Airways and is the official carrier for Nepal of Thai Airways. Thai Smile operates Airbus A320 aircraft with a capacity of 162 seats.

Alongside Thai Smile, Thai Lion Air, another Thai airline, also conducts regular flights in Nepal. According to the authority, Thai Lion Air operates three flights every Saturday. Additionally, after the Nairobi aircraft of Nepal Airlines, which used to fly from Kathmandu to Bangkok, was brought back to service, Nepal Airlines also conducts three flights every Saturday. Thai Airways is also planning to resume its journey with Thai Smile from the upcoming November.

According to the records of the authority, 54 years ago, the same airline, Thai Airways, initiated the first international flight in Nepal through jet aircraft. Two years after the establishment of the Civil Aviation Authority, the airline was established. Eight years after its establishment, in December 1968, Thai Airways conducted its first flight from Bangkok to Kathmandu.

“The first international jet aircraft to fly in Nepal was operated by Thai Airways. This was the first of its kind,” said Bhul.

Before that, in 1953, Air India did not operate flights in Nepal either. However, it is not listed in the list of international commercial flights to Nepal due to being a chartered flight.

When Thai Airways, for the first time, operated an international flight in Nepali airspace, it brought happiness to Nepalis. Thai Airways had maintained a flight at a seven-hour interval for about ten years. This company had spent a long time flying while other airlines couldn’t. Thai Airways had prioritized Nepal for people traveling to distant countries.

As the number of travelers increased, the company started daily flights. Ten years after the first flight was initiated, in 1977, Thai Airways began daily flights from Kathmandu to various destinations using Airbus A300-800 aircraft. This record shows that the airline conducted ten flights every Saturday.

“According to the timetable, Thai Airways was number one in conducting regular flights. The passenger count was also consistently above 90%,” said Bhul. Thai Airways established its computerized ticket reservation system in Nepal two years before its foundation. In 1985, this system was initiated, and it was made available to travel agents five years later.

Thai Airways had introduced services like the Silk Class Lounge, its own ground handling system, and holiday packages. These efforts made Thai Airways an attractive option. However, in 1992, Thai Airways faced a tragic year. On July 31, its aircraft crashed in Nuwakot’s Ghayangphedi while flying from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. The tragic accident resulted in the loss of 113 lives, including crew members.

After the accident, Thai Airways halted flights in Nepal. Qatar Airways had entered Nepal’s airspace during this period. Around 27 years after being in Nepal, Thai Airways was back in the sky. From 1995, Qatar Airways had been operating regular flights in Nepal. After about six years, Thai Airways resumed flights in Nepal via Boeing 777-200 aircraft. Despite the intermittent disruptions, Thai Airways continued to fly in Nepal for around 52 years.

After the COVID outbreak, a lockdown was imposed in Nepal from Chait 11, 2076 BS. Air travel was halted. This pandemic also affected Thai Airways. Approximately six years later, flights between Nepal and Thailand were reopened. Nepali skies were again open to Thai Airways in 1998. In Nepal, Thai Airways continued regular flights for nearly 27 years.

Thai Airways established a computerized reservation system under the Thai Airways office in 1985. Five years later, it provided the system to travel agents. This method was used by other air services in Thailand as well. The history of Thai Airways in the aviation industry, along with their journey in Nepal, will now resume with regular flights.

Tribhuvan International Airport building