Saturday, 13 Jul, 2024


Nepal to launch Dhaka-Pokhara flights 

News Desk |
Update: 2024-06-13 13:10:37
Nepal to launch Dhaka-Pokhara flights  The regulatory body of Nepal’s aviation sector, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), and the commercial sector are planning to request Air Astra to launch direct flights between Dhaka and Pokhara. 

When international flights are not operational, the Pokhara Regional International Airport (PRIA) often faces criticism. Daily international flights from Pokhara have not yet commenced although PRIA has been operational for almost a year and a half. The airport is currently limited to domestic flights only.

A tourism entrepreneur of Gandaki Province said that if the international flights operated directly from the international airports, it would increase the arrival of foreign visitors to Pokhara. Entrepreneurs are also making initial efforts for this purpose. 

They have been urging the government to take initiatives for the resumption of international flights at PRIA. 

However, a decision regarding international flight has not been made yet. Last year, a total of seven international flights along with chartered flights took place from PRIA.

Of late, initiatives have been taken to commence daily flights from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to Pokhara by Bangladesh’s private airline, Air Astra. 

The regulatory body of Nepal’s aviation sector, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), and the commercial sector are planning to request Air Astra to launch direct flights between Dhaka and Pokhara. 

Air Astra has an ATR-72 aircraft which the stakeholders said can make flights between the two cities possible.

A senior officer of CAAN said, “We aim to launch flights between Dhaka and Pokhara within two months. In the initial phase, it will establish the route and see if it can operate at least one flight per week.” 

According to him, not only Air Astra of Bangladesh, but also Bangladesh Airlines is interested in flying to Pokhara. A study is currently underway regarding the potential business on the Pokhara-Dhaka route.

He said, “Starting flights is not a big deal; sustainability is also important. We are taking information from the tourism board, airport, and tourism entrepreneurs about the arrival of Bangladeshi tourists. 

According to officials, connecting Pokhara is easy as there are only international flights from Bangladesh,” he said, “There are direct flights from many cities in China to Kathmandu. However, only the Dhaka airport connects Bangladesh to Nepal. Therefore, it is easy to operate flights from Dhaka to Nepal.” 

According to him, there are no issues in the Dhaka-Pokhara route. Instead, the problem is in the flight route to Bhairahawa. 

He said, “There is no problem on the Dhaka-Pokhara route. There is not much difficulty when the aircraft enters from Simara to Pokhara. There will not be a shortage of passengers as Air Astra has an ATR aircraft. There will be progress if the flights commence in the tourist season and during the arrival of students studying medical science from Bangladesh.”

CAAN has also formed a committee to study the prospects for international flights from Bhairahawa and Pokhara. This committee had a discussion with tourism entrepreneurs and airport officials. Entrepreneurs who participated in the discussion said that even though the initiative of the Authority has been slow in implementation, it is positive.

Sanjay Kant Sigdel, former president of Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) said, “Even if it’s just one flight a week, the flight should be consistent. Only then will the flights be established. Otherwise, single day flights won’t ensure sustainability.”

According to him, immediate flights are not possible and it is going to take some time to market such flights.

He said that a direct flight from Bangladesh to Pokhara will benefit tourism.

Pom Narayan Shrestha, president of Pokhara Tourism Council (PTC), who participated in the discussion, also said that efforts are being made to initiate daily flights between Bangladesh and Pokhara. 

Shrestha said, “The Authority has started taking initiatives. It wishes that the private sector, too, takes its own initiatives, which is not bad. Because it [the private sector] is knowledgeable about the commercial sector, the initiatives are necessary too. As it is a private airline company, the role of the private sector has been sought.”

According to Shrestha, enhancing connectivity between Pokhara and cities in India via airlines could significantly benefit the tourism sector. Entrepreneurs suggest that Indian tourists will arrive in Pokhara with direct flights from many cities in India. 

Shrestha said, “There should be direct flights to and from the cities of India. The priority should be given to India as most are Indian tourists. If Pokhara can be connected to Bangladesh, there is no doubt that tourist arrival will increase, because tourists from Bangladesh want to travel to Pokhara.” 

He said that direct flights between Dhaka and Pokhara are needed as there are enough Nepali students traveling to and from Bangladesh in the course of their medical education there, and the tourist arrival from Bangladesh, too, has been on the rise.

Source: Republica

BDST: 1310 HRS, JUNE 13, 2024

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