Buddha Air to operate Pokhara-India airlink


Buddha Air Private Limited, which is going to launch its service from Pokhara to Lucknow of India from the first week of March, has planned to start with two to three flights a week in the beginning. Speaking at a press meet here today, Buddha Air managing director Birendra Bahadur Basnet said that they will fix daily flight later if their venture succeeds.

It is a 50-minute air-trip from Pokhara to Lucknow. The two-way fare from Lucknow to Kathmandu via Pokhara has been fixed at Rs 16,000. This attempt by Buddha Air will join Pokhara to a foreign city for the first time. Destination of most Indian tourists is Pokhara. Nepal Tourism Board member Ganesh Bahadur Bhattarai said Indian tourists will be facilitated by this air link. The company decided to start air service beforehand the Nepal Tourism Year 2011. NTB expects one million tourists to visit Nepal that year.

Buddha Air is preparing to provide service with ATR-42 in the beginning and has plans to import another plane, ATR-72, having 66-seat capacity to link the lake city with India's capital, New Delhi, if its first attempt is successful. The company said it requires 50 passengers daily to start the flight to New Delhi. The participants in the press meet demanded to keep landing, navigation and passenger service taxes as before. They also demanded to establish an immigration and customs office in Pokhara immediately.

A nine-member Concern Committee has been formed headed by Anandaraj Mulmi, former chairman, Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Pokhara, to put pressure for the fulfilment of the demands. The participants also said that there was probability of extending air services to other different Indian cities.

People of Pokhara also hoped that it also would enable them to put pressure on the government for the construction of a regional international airport in Pokhara. After the launch of international air flight from Pokhara, it will be easier for other airports such as Nepalgunj and Biratnagar to commence international flights.

After ASA between India and Nepal held on 25 September in New Delhi of India had opened the path to start air services to Indian cities. As per the agreement Nepal is allowed to launch air service to 21 different places of India. Tourism entrepreneurs are hoping to develop Pokhara area as the first tourist destination of Nepal after the city gets linked to foreign cities directly.

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