Pokhara International Airport begins commercial flight to China (Chengdu) and back, Bhairahawa may be next

Photo: Binod Dhungana

Pokhara International Airport today began its external operation with the landing of A 319 aircraft belonging to the Sichuan Airlines that took off from Chengdu.

The aircraft had altogether 130 passengers including Ganesh Timshina, Chairman of the National Assembly, along with other nine members of parliament, and Chinese business persons.

The operation of the flight between Chengdu and Pokhara is expected to be a regular feature injecting hope that the airport will survive economically defying fear that India’s indifference to give additional airspace for flights to and from Nepal for external destinations will cripple the new airport built last year with the loan from China’s Exim bank.

Most Chinese passengers who arrived today are likely to participate in the two-day Nepal China Dragon Boat Race festival beginning Friday.

The Pokhara International Airport, first outside Kathmandu, was inaugurated on Jan 1 but poor management of the Civil Aviation Authority and lack of response from India on repeated requests from Nepal for additional air space, had kept it inoperative.

India has also been maintaining silence over the request of Nepal’s private airlines to have Pokhara and other Indian cities connected with regular flights.

A source in the ministry of tourism said Nepal is also having high level discussions with the Chinese authorities to have similar operation in Bhairahawa international airport that was inaugurated on May 16 last year.