POKHARA, Nov 21: The influx of foreign visitors has surged during the festive holidays and the domestic tourist season, resulting in increased passenger traffic on the Pokhara-Kathmandu-Pokhara air route. Despite the availability of 27 daily flights by various airlines on this route, passengers are struggling to secure air tickets due to the heightened demand. The Pokhara Regional International Airport (PRIA) reports approximately 4,000 air passengers per day.
Buddha Air currently operates 17 daily flights on the Pokhara-Kathmandu route, with Yeti Airlines providing seven daily flights, and Shree Airlines offering three flights a day between Pokhara and Kathmandu. The combined efforts of these airlines contribute to the total of 27 daily flights on the Pokhara-Kathmandu route.
Gautam Baral, the station manager of Buddha Air in Pokhara, attributes the increased air pressure to a surge in domestic passengers in the Pokhara region during the festive holidays. He notes that the Pokhara-Kathmandu route is currently at full capacity, with half of the passengers being Nepalis and the other half foreigners. Baral acknowledges the difficulty in securing tickets promptly, even with additional flights.
The rise in the number of domestic visitors in the surrounding areas of Pokhara, particularly those embarking on short-route treks, has contributed to the spike in air travel. Baral explains that the pressure has intensified as both foreign and local hikers, returning to Kathmandu after completing the Annapurna trek, are opting for air travel from Pokhara.
Despite the increased demand for air travel, Baral assures that there is currently no shortage of passengers, as the influx of domestic guests in tourist villages surrounding Pokhara continues. He anticipates sustained demand for a few more days, with the prospect of decreasing pressure after the Dashain festival, as domestic passengers taper off.
Buddha Air presently operates 20 flights daily from Pokhara, connecting to Kathmandu, Bharatpur, Bhairahawa, and Nepalgunj. The airline reports an upswing in the number of passengers flying from Kathmandu to Pokhara.
Yeti Airlines, with seven daily flights on the route, reports consistent passenger numbers between Kathmandu and Pokhara. Similarly, Shree Airlines' Anil Manandhar notes an increase in the number of flights due to heightened passenger demand during the extended holidays, both from domestic and foreign travelers.
Despite complications on the Pokhara-Kathmandu land route, air travel has seen a substantial rise in passenger numbers. According to Jashoda Subedi, spokesperson for PRIA, there are around 4,000 air passengers per day.