Despite the high demand for the air service from Biratnagar Airport to connect hilly airstrip on the Eastern Region of the country, Province 1 Capital Biratnagar, the authorities have not yet decided on the matter and no any decision has been taken so far to fulfill the demand.
Biratnagar Airport Chief, Mr. Tek Nath Sitaula stated that they have not received any instruction to establish regular air service from Biratnagar to hilly districts of Province 1. The Biratnagar Airport situated at an elevation of 236 feet has the entire necessary infrastructure to commence the flight service between the province capital and airports in eastern hilly districts, said Sitaula.
However, Minister for Forest, Industry, Tourism and Environment of Province 1, Mr. Jagadish Kursiyat revealed the information that the province government has already directed the concerned authorities to start regular air service between Biratnagar and airports of hilly districts.
Minister Kursiyat talking at the Provincial Assembly meeting on Wednesday said that “the concerned authorities have been directed to commence the scheduled flight operation from Biratnagar Airport to other districts of Province 1.” Though, the officials from the Biratnagar Airport said that they have not received any instructions from the concern authorities.
The stated owed carrier, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) few years ago used to operate flights to eastern hilly districts from the airport. Later, the corporation was compelled to evacuate the service, citing the lack of STOL aircraft.
“Instead of waiting for the NAC to operate flights to hilly districts, it would be better to create an environment for private airlines to provide air service in hilly districts, Sitaula added. He also mentioned that, we need to expand aircraft parking bays and upgrade the capacity of Biratnagar Airport to operate regular flights to the province’s hilly districts.
Though locals are demanding for operation of regular service to hilly districts from Biratnagar, the government seems indifferent to such demands. Members of provincial assembly have been discussing about the need to start air service to hilly districts of the province for the past three months. However, no concrete initiative has been taken in this direction so far.
Provincial Assembly members from Solukhumbu are insisting that the provincial government take needful initiative to start flights to any airports in the district from Biratnagar. In the absence of flight service, the locals from the hilly region needs to travel to Biratnagar, should first fly to Kathmandu and take a flight to Biratnagar or drive all the way to the province capital.