BUTWAL, Dec 3: The tourism entrepreneurs of Lumbini have demanded that the government-owned Nepal Airline Corporation (NAC) operate regular domestic and international flights from the Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) located in Bhairahawa.
The Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) Lumbini Province met the Deputy General Manager of the NAC, Janak Raj Kalakheti, at the office in Kathmandu and handed him a memorandum on Sunday.
In the memorandum, it has been mentioned that because the private sector has already invested more than Rs 60 billion in the hotel and tourism business targeting the GBIA, the investment remains at risk because international flights cannot be regularized. Entrepreneurs are demanding that the NAC should operate regular national and international flights to safeguard their investment.
A delegation including the outgoing president of NATTA Sagar Adhikari and former president Sanjeev Joshi has demanded regular flights from Bhairahawa as soon as possible.
While receiving the memorandum, Kalakheti, the deputy general manager of the NAC, said that there is a problem for regular flights from Bhairahawa as the NAC currently has only four aircraft, but if the government facilitates it, it is positive to carry out regular flights.
Former president Sanjeev Joshi promised that NATTA and travel entrepreneurs would cooperate to make full bookings if the NAC initiates Bhairawa-Kathmandu and Bhairawa-Delhi flights from the airport.
At present, a total of 15 aircraft of Buddha, Yeti, Shree Airlines are flying from Bhairahawa. In addition to this, the delegation is scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, and Minister of Labor and submit a memorandum in writing to initiate regular international flights from and to the GBIA.
Earlier, 32 organizations of the Bhairahawa area announced a protest demanding regular operation of international flights from the GBIA. They drew the attention of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and others concerned authorities by submitting a memorandum.
Entrepreneurs are demanding that regular service be started byNAC's aircraft as other domestic and foreign airlines are not attracted until the flight of the national flag-carrier.
If the demands are not met, industrialists, various associations and organizations are prepared to hold a sit-in at the airport and halt domestic flights.
The entrepreneurs say that about 15 to 20 major hotels have already been auctioned off by banks due to the financial difficulties arising from the lack of the operation of the airport.