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New Delhi-Nepalgunj flight: Buddha Air’s plan to link KEP-DEL elates locals

- Post Report, NEPALGUNJ

Jun 5, 2018-

The announcement of Buddha Air’s plan to connect the Indian capital New Delhi from Nepalgunj by ATR 72 aircraft has elated local political parties’ leaders, business entrepreneurs and the civil society. The one-hour connectivity is expected to increase trade and tourism activities of the Mid and Far Western regions of the country, they said.

Buddha Air has been working to operate a Nepalgunj-New Delhi service following moves by Nepal and India to make the L626 Kathmandu-Mahendranagar-Delhi airway bidirectional, or two-way route. Currently, only westbound aircraft are allowed to use this airway to fly out of Nepal.

“We have planned to operate three flights a day. Annually, we will generate more than 70,000 one-way seats in the sector,” said Birendra Bahadur Basnet, managing director of Buddha Air. “We have asked the government to initiate the process of setting up immigration and security facilities,” he said at an interaction in Nepalgunj, on Monday. According to him, if things are sped up, it will take at least 7 to 8 months to begin the service.

“We have also planned to link Nepalgunj with Pokhara from October 5,” he said. The sole objective of the carrier is to cash in on the increasing interest from Indian pilgrims to visit Nepal. “The Kailash Manasarovar Yatra holds big potential from Nepalgunj. Besides, there are a number of destinations like Swargadwari in Pyuthan and Khaptad, Rara and wildlife safari in Bardia national park that are key in attracting Indian tourists.

Dhawal Sumsher Rana, mayor of Nepalgunj sub-metropolis, said that people of the Mid and Far Western Regions of the country would no need to travel to Kathmandu to fly to New Delhi if Nepalgunj-Delhi connectivity is established. “The direct flight connectivity holds huge potential in transforming the Mid and Far Western regions into a trade and religious tourism hub.”

“On Monday, we have decided to form an all-party mechanism to continuously monitor the progress of the government to expedite the project. We will be exerting pressure on the government to make the project workable,” he said. Dr Suresh Kumar Kanodia, managing director of Nepalgunj Medical College, said that the Nepalgunj-New Delhi service will also establish Nepalgunj as a hub of medical tourism besides the gateway to Kailash Mansarovar tour.

Nepali Congress Parliamentarian Sanjay Gautam said that Nepalgunj-Delhi was one of the most technically and financially viable routes and holds the potential to shape Nepalgunj into a vibrant hub for religious, wildlife and medical tourism.

In February last year, India agreed to make the L626 route a two-way route. However, the two countries have not been able to conduct a safety assessment of the proposed route. “The Indian ambassador has recently assured us about establishing L626 as a two-way route as soon as possible,” said Basnet.

Tour operators said that 20,000 pilgrims had made confirmed bookings to the sacred mountain and lake as of mid-May.

According to them, if direct connectivity is established for high-end pilgrims, Nepal can receive at least 100,000 Kailash-bound Indian visitors annually. The popular Kailash Manasarovar Yatra season normally begins in May and lasts till September.

Published: 05-06-2018 08:38

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