Kathmandu, September 9:

Following the disruption of East-West Highway due to Koshi river and approaching Dashain festival, airline companies have doubled the number of flights to Biratnagar and Bhadrapur.

Around 700 public vehicles used to ply on the highway daily, carrying thousands of passengers, before the highway was damaged, according to the Federation of Nepali National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNNTE).

But with the highway remaining blocked, three airlines companies — Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines and Nepal Airlines Corporation — have almost doubled the number of flights to the east to meet the consumers’ demand.

Earlier, Buddha Air had around five flights a day to Biratnagar and three to Bhadrapur, but now the company has been operating 12 flights to Biratnagar and five to Bhadrapur.

Senior marketing officer of Buddha Air Binita Thapa said they added the flights to cater to increasing number of passengers.

The airlines will see more pressure to increase the flights with approaching Dashain, specially when resumption of traffic on the highway is not in sight anywhere soon.

According to airlines, tickets till Dashain have been already booked and pressure of the passengers was on the rise every day.

Thapa said they were planning to add more flights for Dashain.

Same is the situation with Yeti Airlines. The airline has increased daily flights to Biratnagar from seven to 13 and from two to four to Bhadrapur.

Vinaya Shakya, senior sales and marketing manager, Yeti Airlines, said all tickets till Dashain have already been booked. He said they were planning to add the number of flights.

The NAC was operating connecting flights from Kathmandu-Lamidada-Biratnagar a few days a week. But now the airline has started direct flights to Biratnagar regularly. NAC spokesperson MT Lama said they have also increased the number of flights to eastern hilly areas.

Though Sita Air is not operating any flights to Biratnagar and Bhadrapur, Suresh Mallik, marketing officer, said they were planning to operate a few flights to Biratnagar and Bhadrapur starting September 26 at the request of the Civil Aviation Authority.

Tribhuvan International Airport said over 20 scheduled flights took off to Biratnagar today and seven to Bhadrapur. It said the number of chartered flights was also increasing of late.