Authorities discuss flight possibility to Lukla from Biratnagar Airport

-KATHMANDU

Airlines management authorities, airport officials and tourism business personnel are planning to re-route the schedule flight bound from Kathmandu to Lukla. The authorities are discussing the possibility of regular flight through Biratnagar Airport to Lukla.

Director General of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Mr. Raj Kumar Chhetri, acknowledged that the discussions with stakeholders were under way to operate direct flights to Lukla from Biratnagar, instead of Kathmandu. This route is expected to slog as a subsidiary to reduce growing traffic congestion at the sole international airport, TIA.

The new plan would execute as if the bigger 72-seater aircraft would carry Lukla bound passengers to Biratnagar airport, from where smaller aircraft will ferry passengers to Lukla airport. Adding, “If everything goes according to plan, we’ll roll out this system by September,” said Chhetri.

Being a small airstrip on the face of a mountain at an elevation of almost 2,900m, the Lukla airport can only feature with small 18 seated STOL turboprop aircraft. Presently a large number of traffic to the airport has been reported adding to the congestion at the TIA.
Present, TIA Report shows that around 100 daily flights are operated between Kathmandu and Lukla sector during the tourist season, while an average of 25 flights is operated daily on the sector on other days.

The domestic airlines stakeholders expect that re-routing Kathmandu-Lukla flights is good for the country’s aviation industry for which the government should develop a concrete methodology to execute the plan.

But if Kathmandu-Lukla flights are re-routed through Biratnagar airport, $25 extra will be added in the fare of the passengers flying to the airport, as per the source.

Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), Spokesperson Mr. Birendra Shrestha, stated that though re-routing Kathmandu-Lukla regular flights through Biratnagar airport is technically viable, discussions are under way regarding the commercial viability of the plan. “We are holding discussions with stakeholders on this matter.”

Meanwhile, CAAN officials said even if the aforementioned plan gets executed, chartered flights and other rescue-related flights to Lukla would be carried out through Kathmandu-Lukla route.

Tourism entrepreneurs are optimistic that the plan to re-route Kathmandu-Lukla flights will have a positive impact on the country’s tourism. However, they are of the opinion that visiting tourists or passengers should have the option of either flying from Kathmandu to Lukla directly or via Biratnagar.

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