Aawaaj Report

As the Gautam Buddha International Airport, alias Bhairahawa Airport, has been receiving very low number of flights, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) is using all its might to increase the number of flights in the second international airport of Nepal – even if it means pressurising airlines.

CAAN has banned international chartered flights from operating through Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in a bid to divert more flights toward Bhairahawa Airport.

The spokesperson for CAAN, Gyanendra Bhul said that the move was made after the new international airport failed to make profits.

The second international airport of Nepal has little to no activity making the shiny and swanky new airport in Bhairahawa a white elephant project.

According to Asian Development Bank (ADB), the total cost of Bhairahawa airport construction is $76.1 million. Of which, ADB’s contribution is about $37 million in loans and grants, while the OPEC Fund for International Development contributed about $11 million in loans and the rest was funded by the Government of Nepal.

It can be speculated that the CAAN is feeling anxious since the second international airport is at a loss while the third international airport – Pokhara International Airport is almost finalized to operate from January 1, 2023.

A desperate CAAN has directed airlines serving Kathmandu to shift a few of their flights to Bhairahawa.

The authority has demanded Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) and Himalaya Airlines to operate two flights daily from Bhairahawa airport from Sunday.

Meanwhile, CAAN has given international airline operators, conducting more than three flights a day in Nepal, to devise a flight schedule for operating from Gautam Buddha International Airport till 16 December.

The authority also advised that any airline failing to comply with the authority’s decision will be revoked operating flights from TIA.

On October 30, CAAN prevented a Nepal Airlines’ Delhi flight from taking off and 245 passengers were left stranded at the TIA.

Archana Khadka, spokesperson for NAC said, “We were not granted permission to fly because we didn’t include flights from Bhairahawa in our winter schedule.” She said NAC bore massive losses as all flights had to reschedule and the passengers were put in a hotel.

As winter is setting in, Gautam Buddha International Airport may be rendered useless due to a faulty Instrument Landing System (ILS) that enables flights to land even in poor visibility. In September alone, Jazeera Airways made at least four diversions to Lucknow Airport in India.