Surkhet Airport, a major hub after Nepalgunj airport in the Mid-Western Region featuring a short runway is encountering reduced flight operations.
Not only Surkhet Airport but other airports of State no. 6 are encountering same problem. The aircraft like ATR 42 and Jet Stream 41 are also not able to operate safely at the airport which is the reason behind the local people not being able to achieve easy access to the air services.
The problem has also risen due to the runway built in north-south direction. According to the plan, the runway was to be built east-west. The length of the runway is 1255 m and 30 m width. Due to the lack of enough runway length, airline operators are denying to operate their aircraft at the airport despite request from Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).
Vinod Pant, head officer of the airport said, “Construction for expanding the runway is not immediately possible, so only the small aircraft are operating flights at the moment.”
Tourism business has also been affected after the air services have decreased. Traders say that tourists are less likely to arrive due to the lack of air service even though there are attractive tourist destinations here.
Mr. Padam Bahadur Shahi, chairman of the Nepal Industry Commerce Federation, president No. 6 stated that “We are not able to provide proper air service for tourists visiting Rara to Manasarovar.”
“If Surkhet airport is made into an international level airport, the tourism industry will leap forward,” he added.
Airports at Province Sate no.6 are facing hard time to generate enough income for operation. Among 7 airport of State 6, only Simikot Airport’s income is above 1 crore.
Buddha Air started the Surkhet-Kathmandu flight for three days a week in the last 2070 BS.However, by showing a runway problem, the airlines closed service after eight months.
Currently, Summit Air is conducting flights in the region. However, the airlines barely gets business on a regular basis.