Pokhara airport served 0.9 million passengers in 2022

Published On: January 15, 2023 11:10 AM NPT By: Santosh Pokharel

POKHARA, Jan 15: Pokhara Airport served nearly one million air passengers throughout last year. In the year 2022, a total of 883,536 air passengers traveled via Pokhara’s domestic airport. Among them, 81,176 passengers were foreigners.

Only after the international airport came into operation in Pokhara from January 1, 2023, most of the flights from Pokhara's old airport were shifted to the new facility. Until then, almost 0.9 million air passengers arrived and departed from Pokhara's old airport in 2022. 

As the number of air passengers is increasing every year, officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) expect that there will be more air passengers in Pokhara next year. The number of air passengers in 2022 was the highest ever recorded.

Officials say that Pokhara International Airport aims to serve at least one million passengers in 2023. Devraj Subedi, a CAAN official, said that despite the limited service facilities, the old airport served the highest number of air passengers so far.

“Air passengers have increased a lot. After the coronavirus infection subsided, domestic air passengers increased a lot,” Subedi said, “We served more than 3,800 passengers in one day from the old airport which  is huge.”

Subedi said that it is certain that the number of passengers will increase in the coming days as more international airports have come into operation. According to him, in 2023, air passengers are expected to increase even further. All the companies that have large airplanes are now starting flights from Pokhara International Airport.

The old airport operated according to the VFR (Visual Flight Rules) but the international airport is preparing to operate with IFR (Instrument Flight Rules). The new airport is also expected to operate night flights, which will further increase the number of passengers.

Only ultralights, helicopters and short runways (STOL aircraft) will now operate from the old airport. The number of passengers in those flights will be very small. "Only 5 percent will be of the old airport," he said. Stakeholders have urged the government to increase the number of flights to manage the ultralights, helicopters and STOL aircraft.

Subedi said that the journey to Pokhara has become difficult by road because of the expansion of the Pokhara-Mugling road section of Prithvi Highway. As a result, the number of air passengers has increased. Besides, domestic tourists are also increasing. Subedi said that while the share of domestic tourists is increasing, its contribution to air travel is also increasing.

As the coronavirus infection is weakening, the number of foreign air travelers in 2022 has increased more than the previous year. In 2021, there were a total of 8,049 foreign air passengers who visited Pokhara. However, now that number has increased to 81,176 in 2022. That number was 1,93, 442 in 2019 before the onset of coronavirus infection. 

“As the coronavirus infection is weakening, the number of foreign tourists entering Nepal is also increasing. Therefore, as the number of foreign visitors increases in the coming days, it will help to increase the number of air passengers,” he said.

Officials of private airline companies also say that the number of air passengers will increase in Pokhara in the coming days due to the flights from the international airport. Gautam Baral, Pokhara-based Station Manager of Buddha Air, said that despite some difficulties, flying from the old airport is now more comfortable as there are enough air passengers.

"The number of flights from the international airport will increase as night flights will be possible. It will help increase the number of air passengers,” said Baral. Pokhara International Airport will be using the IFR technology from next February, he said, so that flights can be made even during late hours.

According to the airport data, in 2018, the number of air passengers in Pokhara was 699,750, while the number of domestic passengers was only 430,165.  In 2019, Pokhara's domestic air passengers were 5,27,272. That year, there were 7,20,714 air travelers in Pokhara, while the number of foreigners was 1,93,442.

According to airport data, the number of air passengers in Pokhara in 2020 was 257,020 amid a coronavirus pandemic . Among them, 25,585 were foreigners, while the number of domestic passengers was 2,31,435. In 2021, the number of air passengers in Pokhara reached 529,944. Out of them, only 8,049 were foreign passengers. 


Leave A Comment