Itahari, February 5
The Beechcraft 1900D of Buddha Air touched down at Biratnagar airport at 1:00 pm on Monday. It was not a usual flight of the private carrier. It was a maiden direct flight from Pokhara to Biratnagar.
The 18-seater aircraft was carrying 17 commercial passengers in its 65-minute flight from the capital city of Gandaki Province to the capital city of Province 1.
The aircraft made its return flight at 1:10pm carrying 17 passengers on board. According to Kausal Bhandari, Biratnagar Station Manager of Buddha Air, there will be three flights a week from Biratnagar to Pokhara.
‘’We have scheduled our two-way flights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday’’, informed Bhandari. The airline has fixed its airfare at Rs 6,200 for the 205 nautical mile air travel.
Direct air connectivity between the two provincial headquarters has energised tourism entrepreneurs of Province 1.
Bhabish Shrestha, a tourism entrepreneur in Biratnagar, said air connectivity has increased hope of attracting third country tourists from Pokhara. ‘’Pokhara is a touristic hotspot of Nepal and Province 1 is tourist-hungry with numerous tourism treasures’’, said Shrestha, also a member of Tourism Promotion Committee of Province 1 for Visit Nepal 2020. “Direct air connectivity will make it easier for third country tourists to land in Province 1,” he added.
Alina Magar, a tourism entrepreneur of Dharan, is also optimistic about direct air connectivity. ‘’Previously, we had only land connectivity and it was hard to travel to and from Pokhara and Biratnagar for high-end tourists with hectic schedules,’’ said Magar. “This direct flight has given an option for direct air mobility,’’ she added.
Bordered by populous Indian provinces of Bihar and West Bengal, Province 1 doesn’t see many third country tourists. With the beginning of budgetary direct air connectivity with what many call Nepal’s ‘tourism capital city’ Pokhara, tourism professionals of Province 1 are excited.
‘’Pokhara is in need of Indian tourists from the neighbouring Indian states of Sikkim, Bihar and West Bengal and Province 1 is in need of third country tourists arriving in Pokhara’,’ said Krishna Shah, a noted tourism activist and also the member of the Tourism Promotion Committee of Province 1 for Visit Nepal 2020.
A version of this article appears in print on February 06, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.