Nepal Airlines, the flag carrier of Nepal, has released a press note stating that it will operate its inaugural flight to Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) with Airbus A320 aircraft. The state-run carrier will conduct its first commercial flight to Bhairahawa on May 16.
GBIA Promotional Schedule Flight
As Gautam Buddha International Airport is ready to welcome airlines after a decade in the making, Nepal Airlines will take a commercial take-off from the new airport on May 16 as a GBIA promotional scheduled flight. According to the press release, the airline will operate its narrowbody A320 aircraft in the Kathmandu-Bhairahawa sector.
The flight is scheduled as:
Kathmandu to Bhairahawa (KTM-BWA) flight: 6:00 AM
Bhairahawa to Kathmandu (BWA-KTM) flight: 8:00 AM
Flight 1731 will conduct KTM-BWA services, whereas Flight 1732 will commence the return journey.
Where to buy tickets?
Passengers may purchase KTM-BWA-KTM domestic flight tickets from Nepal Airlines’ website www.nepalairlines.com.np or from Nepalairlines mobile APP Playstore (by downloading). The tickets are available for purchase from Corporation’s head office ticket sales counter or the nearest travel agency. Fares are available on two code basis: NOO27 will cost the total NPR fare of 7040, whereas YPBW3 charges Rs. 4510 for the flight.
To grace passengers participating in this inaugural ceremony, Nepal Airlines will provide a Historical Badge to them.
The fleet of Nepal Airlines includes the two most awarded aircraft in Nepalese aviation history, the A320-200 aircraft. Named Sagarmatha (which translates to Mount Everest) and Lumbini (Buddhist pilgrimage site), the total seating capacity of the aircraft is 158 passengers (8 business class and 150 economy class). Nepal Airlines received its two narrowbody aircraft in 2015.
Flight for promotion
Nepal’s second international airport, Gautam Buddha International Airport, is the gateway to the international pilgrimage destination of Lumbini, spread over 533 hectares. Slated for inauguration by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on May 16, the birth anniversary of Gautam Buddha, the airport requires a great deal of effort on the marketing front. Nepal Airlines will operate KTM-BWA flight to promote the newly-constructed airport, which is set to be the first port of entry to Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha and a UNESCO world heritage site.
Besides Nepal Airlines, Jazeera Airways will also operate a direct Bhairahawa-Kuwait flight using Airbus A320 on the same day. The Kuwaiti airline has received permission to operate three weekly flights (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) at the recently-built GBIA airport. Nepal’s civil aviation regulator CAAN (Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal) has already approved the provisional international summer schedule of Jazeera Airways in GBIA airport, effective from May 15 to October 29, 2022.
GBIA promotional affairs
The national pride project, Gautam Buddha International Airport, is one of the longest-lasting construction projects in Nepal that took nearly a decade to complete and a total cost of nearly Rs 40 billion. Expected to complete in 2017, the project encountered multiple hurdles resulting in work coming to a halt. The airport is finally ready to serve airlines as an alternate international air transport point for Nepal, with the opening ceremony on May 16. Although the inauguration date has come to the door, there has not been significant marketing, or promotional campaign rolled out to receive flight slots applications from foreign airlines. The airport envisages establishing direct air services with countries like India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar to attract Buddhist pilgrims, but the lack of promotional activities indicates otherwise. While Japan Airlines from Myanmar and Sri Lanka were said to have made informal pledges for the airport, the government ceased to follow up on the pledges.
More than construction, it is crucial to maintain financial viability for the airport, and it depends on the availability of airlines to use the services. Discounts to airlines, subsidies such as exemption of landing and parking fees for a certain time, etc., can assist in the initial airport setup and encourage airlines to launch services.
About Gautam Buddha International Airport
Gautam Buddha International Airport or Bhairahawa Airport is the second international airport upgraded to serve as an alternative to Tribhuvan International Airport and provide direct flight connections to international pilgrims to Lumbini. The airport facility includes a 15,169square-meter terminal building and a 3000m runway to accommodate jumbo jets. Situated in south-central Nepal, the airport has an ideal geographical location to become a hub for the labor market without any weather problems. The airport can be influential in rejuvenating the tourism industry and uplifting economic activities in Lumbini province.