Paragliding to be allowed in Pokhara skies three hours a day

Published On: December 14, 2022 02:45 PM NPT By: Santosh Pokharel

POKHARA, Dec 14: After the Pokhara Regional International Airport (PRIA) comes into operation from January 1, it is not yet certain what will happen to the paragliding flights in the skies here. However, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) is going to reduce the time so that paragliding continues in the skies of Pokhara even for only three hours a day.

Currently, paragliding flights are operated in the skies here from 10 AM to 3:30 PM. However, now because of the international airport, the authority has started to cut the time of paragliding so that they cannot fly all day. The CAAN said that paragliding cannot be allowed to take place in the skies of Pokhara throughout the day like now.

According to the paragliding businessmen, the authority has informally informed the businessmen that only three hours of time can be given for paragliding flights. “The authority has said that paragliding flights can be conducted only for three hours a day. We have asked for the time from 11 AM to 2 PM," said an official of the Nepal Airsports Association (NAA), the umbrella organization of paragliding professionals. "After the authority said to give only three hours, we said the appropriate time is from 11 am to 2 pm."

According to businessmen, paragliding flights are now available from 10 AM to 3.30 PM. It is not possible to conduct flights before 10 AM and after 3:30 PM. “The best time to fly is during the day and that is what we have asked for," the official said, "If possible, it would be better to give more time. Otherwise, the suitable time is only from 11 AM to 2 PM." The official said that the flights will be based on the air pressure, so the time is required accordingly.

It has not been decided whether paragliding flights will remain in the skies of Pokhara or be displaced. However, the CAAN is trying to give continuity to paragliding flights in the skies of Pokhara. After Pokhar-based businessmen demanded that paragliding should continue in the skies of Pokhara, the authority is trying to give it continuity by changing the flight procedure design.

According to the authority, in the current flight procedure plan, if the aircraft approaching the airport from the east could not make an 'approach', or in the case of flying from the west, after reaching the sky above Fewa Lake, the flight procedure was designed such that the aircraft turn right so as to keep Sarangkot to its left. Due to this, the paragliding in the skies of Sarangkot would have to be displaced. 

However, after widespread complaints from Pokhara, a flight procedure design can be made by making the aircraft turn left such that Sarangkot falls left. If the final flight procedure design is passed, the plane with a 'miss approach' will turn left (Pumdi Bhumdi) over the lake. In such a situation, the authority says that the paragliding flight in Pokhara's sky can be safe.

The authority has said that even though paragliding will continue in the skies of Pokhara, it will not be possible in all the places where flights are currently conducted. Now, the authority has designated an 'air box' for paragliding in the skies above Sarangkot, Tori Pani, Mandredhunga and Tamagi in Pokhara. However, the authority has also said that they will not be able to allow flights in all those four boxes. "The authority has said that it is not possible to fly from all four places, now a new place can also be selected or a flight can be made only to one of the old places," Krishna Bhandari, the outgoing president of NAA, said, "It will not be possible to fly from all four places, but the authority has assured that one place will be allowed."

He said that businessmen asked for the skies of Sarangkot as the most suitable place. "The sky of Sarangkot is our top priority in terms of visibility, accessibility and convenience. However, even if it is not possible there, we are forced to go elsewhere. Because it is not possible to maneuver in an air flight. We have to fly to the place allowed by CAAN.” According to Bhandari, the businessmen will be forced to limit themselves when the authority does not allow them to fly in a whimsical way like now.


“The authority has taken all possible measures to protect paragliding, which is the jewel of Pokhara's tourism. Even by changing the flight procedure design, we should support the effort to preserve paragliding," he said. 

At present, there are 60 paragliding companies operational in the skies of Pokhara. He said that the umbrella organization is in-charge of managing the flight slots of those companies. “Now two slots are not possible. One/one slot will be flown, the flight should be completed within three hours at the most," he said, "NAA will manage the slot. There is no possibility of flying freely like now.

General Secretary of Nepal Paragliding and Hang-gliding Association, Shailendra Rawat, said that since it is not possible to fly from the current four places, the authority has given informal information to be ready to make flights from one place only. "Paragliding flights are not possible from four places now. There may be a new place or you may have to go to one of the existing four places," he said. "There is no longer an opportunity to fly from all places."

Jagannath Niraula, spokesperson for CAAN, said that no decision has been made yet on allocating time for paragliding. He said that once the air route is confirmed, it will be clear how to conduct paragliding. Paragliding will continue to exist in Pokhara's skies if the air route supports it. Otherwise, there is no need to close the airport and give time for paragliding," Niraula said, "There is no surety about the route yet. A team is still studying and everything will be confirmed within a few days.”

The CAAN has already said that all the 60 companies in Pokhara will not be able to fly as often as they fly now.



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