Air travel is the only means of transportation for the people at Dolpa to reach Nepalgunj and Surkhet for getting connected with rest part of the country. The only airport in the Dolpa District named Juphal Airport has been serving the locals since 42 years.
The airlines operators operating its flight on the Dolpa’s Juphal airport had hiked the Airfare showing the poor infrastructure. Even a small rainfall used to make the runway full of mud. Since Last Baishak the airport upgrading work was inaugurated and from 15 June to 7 Sept. 2017 the Juphal Airport remained out of operation completely following the blacktopping project of its runway. Tara Air’s Twin Otter ‘9N-ABM’ made a first successful test landing at the airport on September 8, 2017 after the accomplishment of blacktopping followed by Summit and Sita Air.
Even after the airport’s runway is blacktopped and renovated, the airfare has not yet been decreased. Currently, Tara Air, Goma Air and Makalu Air have been operating its flight in the airport charging huge airfare to the passengers flying to the airport even after using the tarmac runway facility.
The airlines operators have been charging Nrs. 8,600 for the Dolpa-Nepalgunj flight allocating it as a charter flight. The Nepalgunj-Dolpa route is approximately 35 minute of flight time.
Summit Air said, “The reasons behind implementing higher airfare for Dolpa flight are uncertainty of two way passengers, technical cutbacks and safety risk.” Likewise, Sita Air also reported that their aircraft has to return empty occasionally and the company has to allocate more salary to the crew for conducting flights to remote areas which is the strong reason behind strong air fare for Juphal Airport.
Local Peoples said that the flights have not been effective and adequate as the private airlines operators are only operating one flight in a week to Bajura, Humla Rara, Jumla and Dolpa from Nepalgunj. Many of the troubled individuals had also reported that the airlines are only favoring the contact persons with the air travel tickets. Thus the locals were appealing for the equality and transparent air ticket distribution.
The respective airline managers at Nepalgunj airport claims that the increment or decrement of the airfare doesn’t belong to their control and informed that the airfare could be cut down to some extent if local authorities release some pressure. However, the competitive private airlines will not reduce their fare to match with the state owned Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) as the corporation is conducting flights to Dolpa with less than 60 percent airfare comparing to other airlines.
The airport resides at an elevation of 8,200 feet (2,499 m) above mean sea level. It consists of one runway designated 06/24 measuring 663 by 30 metres (2,175 ft × 98 ft).