Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Short Introduction to Air Transport of Nepal

The air transport service in Nepal began with the establishment of Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) in 1949, just two years before advent of democracy in the country. Since then more than 40 airports have been founded all over Nepal, though TIA is still the sole international airport here. As major portion of the road network of this recently declared federal republic is still in the primitive and insufficient state, air strips provide a comparatively safer and reliable, although bit expensive, mode of transportation. Those who can spend a little prefer short, cozy and secure journey to the whole-day long bumpy ride on poorly-maintained highways. The gateways to the chief tourist attractions in Nepal like Lukla, Johmsom , Dolpa, Pokhara had airdromes before they were linked into the road network. The remote tourist district of Solu Khumbu alone, which seats the Mount Everest, consists of 4 airports!

Nepal Airlines, formerly Royal Nepal Airlines, is the flag carrier of Nepal operating both national and international flights to Delhi, Quala Lampur, Dubai, Bangkok, Doha and Hong Kong. There are about 18 private companies which are granted the license to operate air services by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. Due to the extensive air network and additional aircrafts from private companies, flights are operated in almost regular basis to the major parts of the country. These airlines also provide additional services like mountain flights and charters (both helicopter and airplane). The popular and preferred private airline services of the country are – Buddha Air, Yeti Airways, Simrik Air, Tara airlines etc.

Getting to Nepal from Europe, Australia and America requires two different flights since there is no direct air connection to these places from Nepal. Some of the popular international airlines in Nepal are: Air Arabia, Air Asia, Air China, Bahrain Air, Biman Bangladesh, China Southern Airlines, Druk Air, Etihad, Qatar Airways etc. The places in Asia to where the regular flights from Nepal are carried out are Bangkok, Seoul, Singapore, Hongkong, Kwala Lampur, Doha , Karachi, Dhaka, Guanghzhao (China), Paro (Bhutan) , New Delhi and few other cities. If you are flying from America or Canada, you may choose to travel either westward or eastward over the globe. From Europe, you need to make first stop at one of the Gulf airports from where regular flights to Kathmandu are operated. In case of Australia or New Zealand, the four options are Bangkok, Seoul, Singapore or Hong Kong.

TIA is not yet well-equipped and sophisticated like the big names in the international airports. However, basic airport facilities are available with additional services like money exchange, tourist information center, instant photo booth and also a communication stall from where you can buy SIM cards easily. Most domestic airports of Nepal are below standards, the aviation sector in Nepal has a long way to go and we can expect at least some decades to pass before a properly managed and well-facilitated airways service comes into effect in Nepal. Nevertheless, journey on air is still the first option for tourists as well as local passengers prioritizing time, safety ,comfort and aerial views of the Himalaya.


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