Airports of Nepal: Pokhara Domestic Airport with PHOTO FEATURE
Western part of the country capital about 200 Kilometers lies, a regional domestic airport in Kaski District serving a tourist paradise in Western Development Region named as Pokhara Domestic Airport (IATA: PKR and ICAO: VNPK) with asphalt runway of length of 1440 meters on an elevation of 2696 feet above the sea level aligned to 040 degrees and 220 degrees serving as one of the country’s major tourists air link in the country.
The Pokhara Domestic Airport is functioning under the government of Nepal by Civil Aviation Authority of Pokhara and had started its first service from July 6, 1958. The airport consists of single Runway with 4 taxiways i.e. two ALPHA and BRAVO taxiways towards runway 040 and rest CHARLIE and DELTA towards runway 220. The airport apron is very tiny which has the capacity to hold five aircraft at a time. The airport apron is divisible into two categories as Avro Category and Twin Otter Category. The airport doesn’t have any helipad service till date but helicopter operators can operate their service by using aircraft ramp to park the aircraft. The airport is also capable of handling Nepal Army Air Service.
Pokhara Airport is a significant hub for international tourists, domestic travellers taking off and landing on its runway. At the moment domestic airliners as well as national flag carrier are operating scheduled flights in this airport regularly.
The airport premises and its terminal building, runway, etc are secured by Nepal Army as well as Nepal Police. The fencing security positions area of the airport are in charge of Nepal Army for security. The airport terminal building can hold 150 PAX at a time. The airport also has a massive storage of aviation turbine fuel of Nepal Oil Corporation which enables the aircraft refuelling in this airport.
Pokhara Domestic Airport is a controlled aerodrome facility serving vertical 8000 feet and horizontal 10 NM till Manka Point. The traffic is monitored by Air Traffic Controllers (A.T.C.) who operate in two shifts. First shift from the airport opening time to noon i.e. from 6 AM to 12 PM and the second shift from 12 till the airport closes, the shifts are handled by 4 ATC officers. The airports have VHF and HF communications facilities which help the pilot to contact with tower easily.
Air Traffic Service Manager for Pokhara Airport, Mr. Anup Joshi talking with Aviation Nepal team noted that the airport handled about 345 air traffic which has been recorded as the highest traffic till 2015 including the fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and Ultralights aircraft operations. The highest air traffic this year 2016 was recorded around 260-270 flights.
Buddha Air operates daily 8 scheduled flights from Kathmandu by its ATR 42-320 aircraft and sometimes with its ATR 72-500 aircraft and the company is also in the phase study of the performance of its ATR 72-500 series aircraft in Pokhara Airport. Yeti Airlines conducts 12 scheduled flights daily by its British Jetstream JS41 series aircraft from Kathmandu. Simrik Airlines operates 5 scheduled flights to Kathmandu from Pokhara with its 19 seater Beechcraft 1900C aircraft and Nepal Airlines also operates 1 scheduled flight with its Chinese-made Harbin Y-12e aircraft which now remains grounded on the hangar since long due to insufficient pilots.
Besides trunk route aircraft Tara and Simrik Airlines operates 3 to 4 flights to Jomsom from Pokhara and sometimes to Manang Airport (*Seasonal) by its Dornier DO-228 and Twin Otter series aircraft simultaneously.
Helicopter operator companies have been playing an active role and providing its service by chartered flights to and fro the airport. Simrik Airlines and Prabhu Helicopters are the only helicopter operator to have a hub at Pokhara Airport. Mostly, Simrik Airlines operates its newly brought Bell 407 GXP helicopter and Prabhu Helicopter operates Robinson R44 and R66 helicopter from Pokhara Airport. The helicopter operates mainly operate its chartered flight service to ABC (Annapurna Base Camp) and rescue flights from Pokhara Airport. Many more helicopter company Altitude Air, Heli-Everest, Fishtail Air, Shree Air and Air Dynasty operates their charter service to this Airport.
Beside, Fixed-wing and Helicopter operators at Pokhara Airport Ultralight aircraft operators are been expanding rapidly. Currently, three ultra-light are proving service with different models aircraft namely Fishtail Ultra Flight, Pokhara Ultra-light and Avia Club; Heli-Air is on final to join the category by its modern Gyrocopter aircraft. All the ultra-light aircraft operators consider its own close door hangar facility for its aircraft. Ultralight aircraft is only the aircraft to take off from Pokhara airport and offer spectacular views of the lakes, mountains and villages. This is an ideal way to see life from a new perspective.
The airport is also equipped with fire and rescue department which consists of 1 fire machine and 1 ambulance equipped with necessary equipment with well-skilled manpower operating in two shifts firefighters marking the department a ‘Category 3’ one. The fire vehicle of Pokhara Airport was manufactured by Sides Industry firefighting vehicles. The fire vehicle has 6000 litres water, 1000 litres of Foam holding 250KG DCP (Dry Chemical Powder).
The airport has also the ambulance in this department is manufactured by Land rover named as DEFENDER 127 Ambulance with a capacity of 2 people and well equipped with oxygen. A fire rescue tower has also been built for the rescuers to have the best aerial view of the airport vicinity during emergencies. These machines well equips the fire and rescue department of the airport.
Pokhara Airport aims to be established as country’s biggest International Airport soon as the inauguration program of Pokhara International Airport was done by Ex-Prime minister, Mr. KP Sharma Oli by positioning the foundation stone on April 13, 2016. The construction of Pokhara International Airport is hand over to the Chinese construction company named China CAMC Engineering Company. A target has been set to complete the construction of the airport by July 2020 which occupies 629 ropanis of land. The airport is to be constructed with loan assistance of around Rs 21 billion from Exim Bank of China while it operates as a domestic airport today.