POKHARA, Nov 5: At 5:30 pm on Saturday, two airplanes of Buddha and Yeti Airlines were readying to fly to Kathmandu from Pokhara. Passengers were on board the aircraft that were already two hours behind schedule.
The 72-seater ATR planes were carrying 65 passengers each. But to the utter dismay of the passengers, both flights were canceled. Those with urgency to travel to Kathmandu took night bus to Kathmandu, while some returned home to catch the first flight on Sunday. Dragging their luggage from the airport, some foreign tourists started looking for hotels.
The incident was one among many for Pokhara airport. Passengers often complain of mismanagement of domestic flights. Flights don’t take off on schedule and passengers need to wait for hours at the airport. Airline companies’ staffers acknowledged the fact that situation sometimes became chaotic due to mismanagement of flights.
“Because of flight delays, it often become difficult to handle the situation,” said Gautam Baral, station manager of Buddha Air in Pokhara, “We are bound to cancel flights in the last minute. This has caused problems in the management, and we have to listen to the passengers’ complaints.”
According to Baral, the last minute cancellation on Saturday resulted from fight delays in Kathmandu airport. The flight was pushed back two hours following delays starting from the morning. He said Buddha and Yeti Airlines had to face the problem because of that. Both the flights were last flights from Pokhara on Saturday.
According to Baral, Buddha Air’s aircraft was scheduled to fly from Kathmandu at 3:25 pm. It would be 3:50 pm when the aircraft would land at Pokhara after the 25 minutes flight. The flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu was first scheduled at 4:25 pm but it was already quarter to 5 when the aircraft arrived at Pokhara. And when the passengers were on board it was already 5:30pm.
Similar was the case with Yeti Airlines. The departure of the aircraft from Kathmandu to Pokhara was at 2 pm but the actual departure took place at 4:58 pm. Both the aircraft were halted from flying due to lack of visibility.
“Pokhara operates flights from 6 in the morning and if managed accordingly, there would be any problem here,” Baral said, adding that the cancellations of flights affect health patients and passengers with connecting flights.
According to Kashinath Poudel, information officer of Pokhara Airport, the traffic of international flights and appearance of fog in Tribhuvan International Airport have been causing flight delays. “The air traffic gets hectic from 6 in the morning. As it is tourist season, there are more domestic flights. This adds to traffic congestion,” he said, “Besides, thick fog has come up as another major problem.”
Regarding Saturday’s flight cancellation, a technician at Pokhara Airport said: “We did not want to take the risk and even after the additional time, flights seemed impossible because of which we had no choice than to cancel them.”