Govt, private sector take initiatives for daily Dhaka-Pokhara flights

Published On: June 13, 2024 11:05 AM NPT By: Santosh Pokharel

Efforts underway to bring Bangladesh’s Air Astra to Pokhara

POKHARA, June 13: Pokhara Regional International Airport (PRIA), operational for almost a year and a half, has faced criticism for lacking international flights. Currently, the airport handles only domestic flights. A tourism entrepreneur from Gandaki Province noted that international flights would boost foreign visitor arrivals in Pokhara, and initial efforts are being made to resume such flights. However, no decision has been made yet. Last year, PRIA saw a total of seven international flights, including charters.

Recent initiatives aim to start daily flights from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to Pokhara by Air Astra, a private Bangladeshi airline. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and the commercial sector plan to request Air Astra to launch direct flights using their ATR-72 aircraft.

A senior CAAN officer stated, “We aim to launch flights between Dhaka and Pokhara within two months, starting with at least one flight per week.” Both Air Astra and Bangladesh Airlines have shown interest, with a study underway to assess the potential business on the Pokhara-Dhaka route.

The CAAN official emphasized the importance of sustainable flights, mentioning ongoing discussions with the tourism board, airport officials, and tourism entrepreneurs. Direct flights from Dhaka are feasible as there are already international flights from Bangladesh to Nepal.

He added that the Dhaka-Pokhara route faces no significant issues, unlike the Bhairahawa route. The ATR aircraft used by Air Astra is expected to meet passenger demand, especially during the tourist season and for Bangladeshi medical students traveling to Nepal.

CAAN has formed a committee to explore the prospects for international flights from Bhairahawa and Pokhara, engaging in discussions with tourism entrepreneurs and airport officials. Sanjay Kant Sigdel, former president of the Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA), stressed the need for consistent weekly flights to establish the route's sustainability.

Pom Narayan Shrestha, president of the Pokhara Tourism Council (PTC), highlighted the efforts to initiate daily flights between Bangladesh and Pokhara. He noted that both government and private sector initiatives are essential for success. Additionally, Shrestha suggested that enhancing connectivity with Indian cities via direct flights would significantly benefit tourism, given the high number of Indian tourists.

Shrestha concluded that direct Dhaka-Pokhara flights would increase tourist arrivals, supported by the rising number of Nepali students traveling to Bangladesh for medical education and the growing interest of Bangladeshi tourists in visiting Pokhara.



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