Night flights to and from Pokhara Int’l Airport to begin from February 23

Published On: February 9, 2023 10:30 AM NPT By: Santosh Pokharel

POKHARA, Feb 9: Night flights will be possible at Pokhara Regional International Airport from February 23 onwards. This new airport has been operational since January 1. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) said that this airport, which is currently operating only during the day time, can be operated at night after February 23.

According to Bikram Gautam, Pokhara-based head of the authority, if the airline companies want, the route will be opened for night flights after February 23. 

“If the airlines want to fly, they won't have to wait much longer for night flights. Until now, there haven’t been any flights after 4 pm. Now that problem will be resolved," Gautam said, adding, “Although the airport has been in operation since January 1, we have to wait until February 23 to make sure that it is suitable for flying even at night time."

Commercial flights started at Pokhara Regional International Airport from January 1. However, all those flights were domestic. Apart from that, all the flights so far were operated according to VFR (Visual Flight Rules) technology. In VFR, the pilot sitting in the cockpit takes off and lands visually. However, takeoff and landing of aircraft according to IFR (Instrument Flight Rules), the method of flying based on technology, will start only from February 23. 

“Technically, the airport is ready,” he said.

"We are now training the staff to operate flights at night," said Gautam during a discussion organized by the Pokhara Tourism Council on Wednesday. 

According to the provisions of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the airport will be considered eligible for international flights only after 42 days after the authority publishes the AIP (Aeronautical Information Publication).

“It is believed that the international community will understand everything about Pokhara International Airport within 42 days. In order to provide information about the airport at the international level, it is customary for the air service regulatory body of the respective country to publish the AIP,” Gautam said, adding that this report will be published like a journal. 

Based on the data mentioned in the report, which will be made public with complete information about the overall situation of the airport, the airline companies will get information about whether their aircraft can fly and land there or not.

Gautam said that some international air service companies are showing interest for international flights in Pokhara. According to Gautam, Korean Air, Fly Dubai, Qatar, Thai Smile, Jazeera, Himalaya, Buddha Air have shown interest for international flights. 

“We are excellent in terms of security. We have all facilities for international flight operations. There are all kinds of facilities required for an international airport, from customs, immigration, quarantine, money exchange,” he said.

Gautam said that the safety of Pokhara Regional International Airport was questioned after the recent plane crash in Pokhara, but the preliminary report about the accident published a few days ago stated that the airport was not the cause of the accident. The report has made  it clear that the airport is safe in all respects, Gautam said. "It has been proven that the accident did not happen due to the weakness of the airport," he said.

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