Tourism entrepreneurs from Lumbini urges govt to operate regular NAC flights at GBIA

Kathmandu: In a bid to safeguard over Rs 60 billion in private sector investments poured into hotels and tourism ventures around Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) in Bhairahawa, Lumbini tourism entrepreneurs have called upon the government-owned Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) to initiate regular domestic and international flights.

The Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) Lumbini Province presented a memorandum to Janak Raj Kalakheti, Deputy General Manager of NAC, during a meeting in Kathmandu on Sunday.

The document emphasizes that the private sector’s substantial investments are at risk without regularized international flights, urging NAC to operate both national and international flights to ensure the protection of their investments.

Delegation members, including outgoing NATTA President Sagar Adhikari and former president Sanjeev Joshi, pressed for swift commencement of regular flights from Bhairahawa.

Kalakheti acknowledged the challenge of limited aircraft (four) at NAC but expressed positivity towards regular flights if government support is extended.

Former president Sanjeev Joshi pledged cooperation from NATTA and travel entrepreneurs, committing to full bookings if NAC launches Bhairawa-Kathmandu and Bhairawa-Delhi flights.

Currently, 15 aircraft from Buddha, Yeti, and Shree Airlines operate from Bhairahawa. The delegation plans to escalate the matter by meeting the Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, and Minister of Labor, submitting a written memorandum to push for regular international flights at GBIA.

Earlier, 32 Bhairahawa-based organizations announced a protest, demanding consistent international flight operations.

They submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, and other relevant authorities, drawing attention to their concerns.

Entrepreneurs stress the importance of NAC’s involvement, citing a lack of attraction from other domestic and foreign airlines until the national flag carrier initiates flights.

In the absence of a positive response, industrialists, associations, and organizations are poised to stage a sit-in at the airport, potentially disrupting domestic flights.

Financial hardships due to the airport’s inactivity have led to the auction of approximately 15 to 20 major hotels by banks, further highlighting the urgent need for action to revive economic prospects in the region.