POKHARA, Nov 30: The mechanical test (calibration flight) has been completed at the Pokhara Regional International Airport (PRIA), which is being prepared to be put into operation from the first week of January, 2023. Mechanical testing of the airport was done for a week. However, the report has not arrived yet.
Spokesperson for PRIA, Anup Joshi, informed Republica that the plane was taken to Nepalgunj after the calibration flights at the Pokhara airport. The plane of Thailand's Aero Thai Company conducted the calibration flight at PRIA. The Thai company started conducting the calibration flights at PRIA from November 21 to November 27.
"After completing the work in Pokhara, Aero Thai's plane has gone to Nepalgunj," said Joshi, "Now it will conduct calibration flights at the Nepalgunj airport." The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the governing body of Nepal's air services, is currently conducting regular mechanical inspections of Nepal's main airports, including the one in Pokhara. The plane has now gone to Nepalgunj for the same kind of test. The authority has also tested other airports where IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) flights are carried out by this plane of Aero Thai.
Although the process of conducting mechanical tests at PRIA has been completed, the final report has not arrived yet. According to the CAAN, the company that conducted the calibration flights will give the final report within three weeks. "Aero Thai has been requested to provide the report of the calibration flights at the Pokhara Regional International Airport a little earlier," said Joshi, "It is not certain when the report will be handed to us."
Despite the calibration flights, it is still not clear which airline will fly the first international flight from the airport in January. However, Buddha Air, the leading private sector airline of Nepal, has planned to operate the first international flight connecting Pokhara with India. The process has been advanced for that. Buddha Air has started the process to make the first international flight from PRIA to an Indian city. However, the final decision has not been reached, said a high-ranking employee of CAAN.
Buddha Air had announced a few days ago that it will fly directly from Pokhara to Banaras in India. Buddha Air said that the company wants to set the international flight from PRIA flying on the Pokhara-Banaras-Pokhara route. Buddha Air plans to fly three days a week (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday). Apart from that, as the Government of Nepal is taking initiatives with the Government of India for the Air Traffic Service (ATS) route, Buddha Air also said that as soon as the route and slot are approved by the Government of India, the Pokhara-Delhi-Pokhara flights will be launched. Buddha Air has also prepared to fly Pokhara-Delhi-Pokhara twice a day and Pokhara-Dehradun-Pokhara thrice a week.
The then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli laid the foundation stone of PRIA on April 13, 2016. Only a year and a half after the foundation stone was laid, the Chinese company China CAMCE, which took over the construction of the airport, started work. Meanwhile, the coronavirus spread. However, the Chinese company continued to speed up the construction. The construction company handed over the infrastructure of the airport to Nepal after 93 percent of the work was completed in the third week of March last year despite the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Narrowbody Airbus A320 and Boeing 757-200 aircraft can take off and land at the airport. These planes have a capacity of less than 200 seats. This airport can park 11 ships including three large and eight small ones. The runway of the airport is 2,500 meters and the width is 45 meters and the thickness of the runway is 34 cm. The airport has the capacity to handle 610 passengers per hour during peak hours. There are also separate domestic and international terminal buildings.