The story of struggling Nepalese carrier Agni Air

Agni Air was a Nepalese carrier which operated for approximately seven years in the 2000s and 2010s. Based at Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) in Kathmandu and with a secondary hub at the famous Tenzing-Hillary Airport (LUA) in Lukla, it flew turboprop aircraft on a home network. Let’s go back to its short history.

In the beginning

Agni Air was founded in 2006 and started operations in March of the same year. Initially flying a single Dornier 228 twin-turboprop airliner, her first routes from Kathmandu were to Lukla and Tumlingtar. A day later on March 17, 2006, it also added a route to Biratnagar (BIR), which is the third busiest airport in Nepal.

As for the airline’s brand, it used the slogan “fly sky friendlyThat, in itself, became a point of contention, with the writers responsible for it (Christian Kracht and Eckhart Nickel) allegedly not being paid for their work. In the meantime, the airline took its name “Agni from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘Fire.’

Angi Air has been granted permission to operate scheduled domestic services under an Air Operator Certificate issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. It has also enabled the carrier to operate mountain flights, which play a key role in the country’s tourism industry. But which aircraft did Agni Air use for such flights?

The mountainous nature of Nepal meant that the Dornier 228’s STOL capabilities were well suited to Agni Air’s network. Photo: Getty Images

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A small fleet of turboprops

According to data from, Agni Air has operated seven aircraft over the years, with that figure including two different turboprop families. One of these was the British Aerospace Jetstream 41, three examples of which served Agni Air. They joined the airline between December 2008 and November 2009.

Meanwhile, the airline’s four remaining aircraft were Dornier 228 turboprops. Interestingly, there were three sub-variants, the only version with multiple examples being the 228-212 variant. Agni Air has flown two of these STOL-capable airliners, and they joined the carrier in March 2009 and October 2010.

Meanwhile, the two variants of which Agni Air flew only one example, according to ch-aviation data, were the Dornier 228-100 and 228-200. These planes were among the first to join the carrier, and they came on board in 2006 and 2007.

The airline has struggled financially after experiencing two fatal crashes. Photo: Getty Images

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Fatal accidents sound the death knell for Agni Air

Unfortunately, in the early 2010s, Agni Air had the misfortune to suffer two fatal crashes relatively quickly. The first of these took place in August 2010, followed by the second in May 2012. Unfortunately, 14 people perished as a result of the first accident, and 15 others lost their lives in the second accident.

These accidents ultimately proved terminal for the airline, which suffered financial difficulties as a result. Such struggles led the carrier to cease operations in 2013. Agni Air was to be taken over by a startup known as Namaste Air. However, after that failed, its remaining aircraft went to Simrik Airlines.

What do you think of the Agni Air story? Have you ever traveled with the carrier? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.


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