Air service to Mugu stays shut

Nepalgunj, November 4:

Air service to the remote hilly district of Mugu in Karnali zone has remained suspended for the past three months.

Air service to Mugu was halted after Shangri-La Airlines, which used to fly regularly to Mugu, stopped its flights three months ago. However, due to immense pressure from customers, the airlines had operated flights to Mugu for four days during Dashain. No other airlines has provided air service to Mugu so far.

Other airlines have said that they have not provided air service to Mugu because of lack of infrastructure at Talcha Airport in Mugu.

Although RNAC and Yeti Airlines had conducted test flights to the region, they could not keep flying to the region.

Chief of Nepalgunj Station of the airlines, Deepak Shah said that as one of its aircraft has been grounded at Kathmandu for repair since August and other aircraft’s night stop has been shifted to Pokhara, the airlines had to remove Mugu from its flight schedule from Nepalgunj.

He said, “After the repair of the aircraft, we will resume flights to Mugu.”

Different airlines say that because there aren’t security forces at Mugu airport, airlines are hesitating to fly there. Talcha Airport at Mugu is 2 to 3 hours from headquarters Gamghadhi and Rara Base Camp of Royal Nepalese Army.

Air service is available in other districts of Karnali including Dolpa, Humla and Jumla. People are compelled to trek for at least five days to reach Mugu from Dailekh in the absence of air service.

Though sometimes helicopters with up to seven passengers and goods are operating to Mugu, locals cannot afford to travel in them due to the high charges. A local resident of Mugu, Top Bahadur Hitang, said that fares for one person in a helicopter is Rs 6,200 and that it is impossible for them to travel by paying such a high amount of money. Hitang also demanded the government to resume flights to Mugu.

Former member of parliament from Mugu district, Chandra Bahadur Shahi also said that demands to resume air service to Mugu was made time and again but it has been ignored.

Chief of regional office, Nepalgunj of RNAC, Keshar Maan Dongol said that if proper infrastructures is constructed at Mugu airport, RNAC is willing to conduct flights to Mugu.