Balewa Airport incurring loss due to lack of sufficient air passengers

Parbat-Baglung Municipality has reimbursed worth NRs 1,44,335 on two flights of this week only. Baglung Municipality has been compensating airlines company as per the agreement due to the shortage of passengers per flights. Sunday there were 5 passengers on the Tara Air Kathmandu-Baglung-Kathmandu flights whereas only 6 passengers traveled through Balewa- Kathmandu flight.

According to the provision, there should be at least 24 passengers on the aircraft’s two way flight and in case Municipality fails to meet the target they have to compensate remaining passengers fare at the rate of 6,795 NRs per person. They had paid the airfare of shortcoming 13 passengers which was 88,335 NRs in total to the Tara Air. Municipality has recovered more than 7 lakh rupees from the lacking passengers only till date.

Before this last Thursday, there were 11 passengers arriving through Nepal Airlines’ Kathmandu-Balewa-Kathmandu routes and 3 passengers departing from Balewa to Kathmandu. For which Baglung Municipality has compensated lacking 10 passengers airfare of total 56,000 rupees at the rate of 5,600 per person to the Nepal Airlines.

Though Baglung Municipality has been providing 20 lakhs rupees in advance to the Airlines companies but they are recovering the fare amount flying vacant aircraft. Hence public representatives have criticized stating they are emptying the finance. Time and again initiatives were taken to operate the Balewa Airport however, the Authorization had asked for passenger written commitment for which Municipality had made an agreement to pay expenses of the inadequate passengers and finally brought the airport into operation.

Janak Raj Poudel, Bagalung Municipality Chief affirmed that decrement of the national flag carrier’s airfare rate has provided relief to some extent and will assist in bottom lining the expense rate gradually. He said we have operated the airport on the demand of the locals of Parbat, Baglung and Myagdi but not expected of such a huge loss so now Baglung Municipality only cannot bear the expenses alone. Municipality has also informed that they are trying to black top the road to reach the airport. The airport has remained closed for 26 years since the inauguration of Pokhara-Baglung road. The public had demanded for the adjustment of the Balewa-Kathmandu airfare rate after its increment.

Ater which Nepal Airlines had deacreased it Baglung-Kathmandu fare from 6,500 to 5,800 NRs and Balewa-Kathmandu fare rate to 5,600 rupees. However, Tara Air still charges 6,500 rupees. Though Airlines has made an agreement with the municipality to conduct two flights per week ( Sunday and Thursday) on 23rd March but there has not been conducted regular flights yet. Airlines has not been operating regular flights stating low passenger rate and bad weather condition stated Baglung Municipality.

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