POKHARA, Sept 23: Airline companies of Nepal have started expanding flights to meet the increasing demand on the Kathmandu-Pokhara route. Private airliners, including Buddha Air and Yeti Airlines, have now added flights on the Pokhara-Kathmandu-Pokhara route. Another private airline company, Shree Airlines, is also preparing to add flights to Pokhara.
The airlines say that they have increased the number of flights as foreign visitors to Pokhara are increasing and domestic passengers are also on the rise. The decision comes at a crucial time when Pokhara will see a surge in tourism activities as the next three months are peak season for tourism in Nepal.
Apart from that, the number of domestic travelers is certain to increase during the upcoming festivals and therefore, the airline companies have adjusted their flight schedules accordingly.
Buddha Air has now started 17 flights a day along the Pokhara-Kathmandu route. Until a few days ago, Buddha Air was operating only 14 flights a day on this route. Buddha Air has added three more flights. According to Dipendra Karna, information officer of Buddha Air, the company is also flying to Bhairahwa, Bharatpur and Nepalgunj from Pokhara.
“We are operating 20 flights a day from Pokhara on various routes. Now that the festive season has begun, domestic passengers have also increased. We've also seen a rise in Indian and other foreign visitors," he said, adding, “The number of passengers traveling from Kathmandu to Pokhara is the highest because of the difficulty in traveling by road due to the ongoing works of upgrading the highway.”
He said that about 1,000 passengers (one-way) are flying on the Kathmandu-Pokhara route every day. According to Karna, there are more passengers in the morning, so the flights have also been added. Buddha Air now has 16 aircraft.
Yeti Airlines has now added night flights to Pokhara since last Sunday as per the increasing demand. According to the spokesperson of Yeti Airlines Sudarshan Bartaula, the flight has been added due to the increase in the number of passengers visiting Pokhara. Yeti is currently operating six flights a day to Pokhara, including night flights.
Since the expansion of the Pokhara-Muglin highway has started, the journey by land has become very tedious. It takes at least five hours to cover the distance of about 80 km from Pokhara to Abukhaireni. Before the expansion, it used to take just two hours to cover this distance. The airline company says that the number of air passengers has increased due to the difficulty in traveling through the highway.
Shree Airlines, another private sector airline, is also preparing to add flights to Pokhara. According to Anil Manandhar, corporate manager of Shree Airlines, the company is currently operating only one flight a day on the Kathmandu-Pokhara route.
Manandhar said that Shree Airlines is now preparing to operate three flights a day on the Kathmandu-Pokhara route.
“We will increase the number of flights within a few days. There is only one flight for now. However, there is a plan to increase it to three flights in response to the increase in demand.”