Manang’s Humde Airport remains non-operational even in times of need
August 8, 2021 11:35 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, August 8: Manang has been disconnected from the outside world after natural disasters in the region destroyed all the roadways connecting the Himalayan district. Although preparations are currently underway to connect the region via roadway by Dashain, the task will not be easy, according to the local administration.
The local residents are having to suffer the burden of expensive helicopter charters for any kinds of emergencies, as the district’s Humde Airport remains non-operational. Locals have expressed their grievance over the lack of support from the government in such unprecedented times. The local government and the federal government have turned a blind eye to make the airport operational in times of need, locals said.
There is not enough basic necessities and food in Manang as roadways have been destroyed. People are forced to charter expensive helicopter flights, just to order relief materials.
“A kilo of item costs Rs 250 to be transported. At the same time, a helicopter cannot carry much load,” Binod Gurung, a local tourism entrepreneur, informed Republica. “It would be much easier to transport goods and sick people for treatment if the local airport had been operational,” Gurung said.
According to Bishnu Lamichanne, Chief District Officer of Manang, the District Disaster Committee has already sent a letter to the Ministry of Tourism to reopen the Humde Airport. The ministry has directed to coordinate with private sector airlines.
According to Bikram Gautam, Chief of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal in Pokhara, the demands of the locals of Manang needs to be addressed urgently. “Flight operations could resume from today if private sector airlines show any kind of interest but nobody has thought of looking into the problem,” he said.
Humde Airport lies at an altitude of 11,145 feet and is 90.74 kilometers away from Pokhara. A flight to Humde Airport from Photakra takes about 16 to 18 minutes. Earlier, the Himalayan airport saw three flights a week but has remained non-operational for a while even after the runway was blacktopped.
There has not been a single scheduled flight to Manang in the past eight years. The runway of the airport was extended from 600 meters to 900 meters.