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Pokhara, Sauraha to be linked by air after a decade

- LAL PRASAD SHARMA, BIMAL KHATIWADA, Kathmandu

Sep 15, 2017-

Two renowned tourist hubs of the country, Pokhara and Sauraha, are being linked by air route after more than a decade. Buddha Air, a private airline company, will start regular flights between the two destinations beginning Friday.

The first flight will leave Pokhara at 10 am on Friday and the return flight will leave Bharatpur airport at 10:35 am. The one-way journey will take around 20 minutes to complete. Domestic travelers can complete one-way journey for Rs3,650, while foreigners will have to pay $92.

The air connection is expected to provide respite to domestic and foreign tourists visiting Sauraha, who either have to visit Kathmandu to take a flight to the destination or take an arduous road trip via Muglin-Narayangadh highway, which is prone to landslides and accidents.

“Those engaged in travel trade have long been demanding that we operate flights between the two tourist spots,” said Bhakta Bahadur Basnet, manager of Buddha Air’s Bharatpur branch office. “This connectivity is expected to promote tourism in Sauraha.”

Buddha Air is initially starting the air service with an 18-seater Beechcraft. “If passenger flow surges, we can use a 47-seater aircraft,” Gautam Baral, station manager of Buddha Air Pokhara, said.

The flight between Pokhara and Sauraha was first operated by Shangri-La Air around 13 years ago. Later, Skyline Airways also conducted flights on the route. But due to cutthroat competition between the two companies, flights on the route were terminated in around eight months. “We hope the history will not repeat again,” Pokhara Tourism Council President Kedar Sharma said.

The biggest beneficiary of resumption in air service between the two destinations is likely to be Sauraha, as tourists have lately started tossing out the popular jungle safari destination in central Nepal from the list of ‘must-visit’ tourist spots due to road safety issues. This had dampened the confidence of Sauraha-based travel 

traders.

Tourists who visit Pokhara and Lumbini generally prefer to tour around Sauraha as well. These three destinations are referred to as the golden triangle in Nepal’s travel lingo. But the 36-km Muglin-Narayangadh highway that links Sauraha is in a sorry state.

“This has dissuaded many tourists from visiting Sauraha,” said Ram Mani Khanal, general secretary of the Hotel Association of Nepal (Sauraha Chapter).

To improve the road condition, the government started expanding the highway in April 2015. But the expansion work, which was expected to be completed within two years of commencement of construction, has not been over till date.

Buddha to fly to Bhairahawa

Buddha Air will start flying to Bhairahawa, the gateway to Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha, beginning Friday.

The first flight will leave Pokhara at 11:10 am and the return flight will leave Bhairahawa at 11:40 am.  

The one-way journey will take around 20 minutes to complete, according to Gautam Baral, station manager of Buddha Air Pokhara.

Published: 15-09-2017 09:44

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