Kathmandu, June 18
Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) has urged the government to halt Kathmandu-Lukla flights completely to promote flight operation from Ramechhap to Lukla.
Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) recently announced that flights from Ramechhap to Lukla would be given continuity. Yesterday, TAAN held a meeting with Mohan Krishna Sapkota, secretary of Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, to discuss Ramechhap-Lukla flights and its impact on tourists and trekking entrepreneurs.
“Ramechhap-Lukla flights could be beneficial but only if the government stops flights from Kathmandu to Lukla,” said Navaraj Dahal, president of TAAN. He further claimed that a few airline companies that are politically connected are still operating direct flights from Kathmandu to Lukla.
“The airline companies are giving priority and preference to individual online bookings over those handled by trekking firms,” Dahal said. “And sometimes they are operating flights on the Kathmandu-Lukla route without giving any notice to trekking agencies. Such practices need to be stopped.”
TAAN has also requested Secretary Sapkota to review and revise the airfare between the two routes as flight duration is not the same. Along with that, the impact on service providers and beneficiaries has to be analysed, he added.
“Ramechhap-Lukla route will be crucial in avoiding congestion and flight delays at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). Also, Manthali airport is the nearest airport from Lukla, so it could facilitate tourists,” said Gopal Shrestha, managing director of Higher Limits Trek and Expedition.
The entrepreneurs also requested the government to upgrade the Manthali airport and build tourist-friendly infrastructure in Ramechhap.
“Airport upgradation and tourist-friendly infrastructure will also help to uplift the lifestyle of locals,” he said, adding, “Trekking entrepreneurs are positive on CAAN’s decision to continue Ramechhap-Lukla flights from the next mountaineering season.”
The flights to Lukla have been diverted from TIA to Manthali Airport since April 1 due to the renovation works of TIA runway, as an alternative route. While the diversion was planned till June 30, taking into consideration the convenience for passengers and public demand, CAAN recently decided to allow airline companies to operate regular flights in Ramechhap-Lukla route.
The airline companies have welcomed CAAN’s decision.
A version of this article appears in print on June 19, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.