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Interview

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In less than six years of its operation in Nepal, Etihad Airways has already established its brand image among Nepali consumers. Since the commencement of flights in 2007, the United Arab Emirates-based airline has carried more than 500,000 passengers. In addition to connectivity in between Abu Dhabi and Nepal, Etihad Airways offers its service to more than 87 destinations across the globe. New Business Age asked Pawana Shrestha, Etihad Airways’ Country Manager in Nepal about airline’s plan. Excerpts:
 
Etihad Airways recently celebrated its fifth year of operation in Nepal? How has the journey been?
Our services to Kathmandu have been a great success. Since the launch of the route in 2007 we have carried more than 570,000 passengers. In addition to carrying passengers between Abu Dhabi and Nepal, Etihad Airways offers seamless connections to more than 94 destinations around the world. Etihad Airways’ global network has been a major contributor to the success of the Kathmandu route.
 
What are the future plans of Etihad Airways in Nepal?
We will continue to work closely with our travel partners to promote tourism to this beautiful country and carry more passengers to cities across our global network.
 
Our close partnerships with the trade and travel industry in Nepal, has been instrumental in our success in Nepal, with the consistently high load factor across all cabins. We are very pleased to be making meaningful contribution to the Nepali economy.
 
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a lucrative destination for many Nepali migrant workers. What is the percentage of migrant workers that Etihad cater to ?
We cater to a fairly large number of Nepali workers. However; we carry even more leisure passengers. In 2012 Nepalese workers made up around 30 per cent of our customer base, leisure passengers made up 50 per cent. The remaining were business and corporate travelers.
 
Numerous other airlines are operating in Nepal. How tough is the market competition for Etihad?
Nepal is a very competitive market and there are around 28 airlines currently operating services to Kathmandu. The Abu Dhabi- Kathmandu route, however, has been very successful. This success is due to our commitment to providing our guests with a remarkable travel experience across their entire journey and our focus on delivering award winning product and services.
 
What is your Marketing Strategy in Nepal?
Our Marketing strategy focuses on raising the profile of Etihad Airways in the Nepali market and increasing awareness of Abu Dhabi as a leisure destination. The core of our strategy, however, is providing an unbeatable product. 
 
Our marketing strategy involves working closely with our partners, travel agents, industry magazines and trade associations as well as by deploying various promotions, competitions and discount programmes throughout the year.  These include tactical campaigns like regular breaking deals, online deals and highly discounted last-minute offers to encourage repeat visitors.
 
What are your CSR programmes in Nepal?
Etihad Airways is committed to active participation in causes that support people and strengthen communities across its global network. 
 
 In Nepal, our corporate social responsibility policy centers on projects that assist communities in need and, in the longer term, drive development and empowerment. Therefore, we support orphanages and education projects and homes for the elderly and through medical partners, support critical surgery and health services training.
 
Recently we donated a large amount of waste paper to support a recycling initiative led by Shanti Sewa Griha, a non-governmental  organisation providing shelter for the less privileged and fighting discrimination against leprosy patients in Nepal.
 
In 2012 we donated care parcels, made up of packed lunches and blankets, to two social welfare organizations in Kathmandu to keep the less privileged safe from the piercing cold of Nepal.

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