KATHMANDU, June 30: Privately-owned Buddha Air began scheduled commercial flights to Varanasi of India, from Friday.
Speaking at the flight launching ceremony in Kathmandu, Birendra Bahadur Basnet, managing director of Buddha Air, said that they were targeting to promote tourism of both Varanasi and Nepal by establishing direct connectivity between Varanasi and Kathmandu.
“This flight is expected to pave the way for operation of flights from regional airports of the country to neighboring countries,” Basnet said on the occasion, adding: “This will facilitate movement of people between the two countries and promote cross-border tourism.”
The airline is operating 45-seater ATR aircraft for the flight. The flight takes around an hour to reach Varanasi.
“This flight will also test the passenger movement between two ancient cities of the region in this season,” he said.
Buddha Air used to operate chartered flights to Varanasi in the past. “Now onward, we will be flying on the sector regularly. The flights will be operated on Fridays and Mondays,” he added.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari flagged off the flight at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu in Kathmandu, while Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath received the first scheduled passenger service between Kathmandu Varanasi.
Buddha Air has floated three different packages -- Varanasi-Sarnath package costing Rs 32,500, Varanasi-Bodh Gaya package of Rs 34,000 and Varanasi-Allahabad-Ayodhya package of Rs 41,500 – for Nepalis.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister Adhikari said that Buddha Air's Varanasi flight was the beginning of international flights operation from regional airports of the country. “We have already started needful preparation to expand capacity of our regional airports and add necessary infrastructure there,” he said, adding that tender has been awarded to expand Nepalgunj Airport.
“We will spare no effort to build necessary infrastructure for the development of the country's aviation sector.”
The minister also added that he believes the beginning of international flights from regional airports will help the government to achieve the targets of Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign. “Rather than focusing on only Delhi flights, our focus is on connecting Nepal with other neighboring states of India,” he added.