Santosh Pokharel, My Republica, January 14, 2020
Of all the passengers who used the airport in 2019, 113,442 were foreigners. According to the Civil Aviation Office, Pokhara, most of the foreigners were tourists visiting different tourist attractions in the lake city.
POKHARA: Pokhara Airport has been serving an average of 2,000 passengers on a daily basis. About a quarter of total passengers are foreigners.
According to a report prepared by Civil Aviation Office, Pokhara, the airport handled 720,214 passengers in 2019. "This is the highest number in the history of the airport," said Bhola Prasad Guragain, chief of Civil Aviation Office, Pokhara.
Of the total passengers using the airport in 2019, 113,442 were foreigners. According to the office, most of the foreigners were tourists visiting different tourist attractions in the lake city.
"The number of both domestic and international passengers is growing. The airport is handling an average of 2,000 passengers every day," Guragain said.
The airport had handled 609,975, including 179,810 foreigners.
"The number of air passengers using Pokhara Airport increased by 110,739 in 2019 compared to figures of 2018," he added. "We have felt pressure as number of air passengers is increasing with every passing year. It will continue to increase in the future as well as Pokhara is the second popular tourist destination in the country after Kathmandu."
Tourism entrepreneurs of Pokhara say the number of tourists entering Pokhara from land routes is more or less the same.
"Our capacity is 500 passengers per day. But we are handling around 2,000 passengers a day. We are managing the pressure somehow," said Guragain. "But things become difficult for us when flights are disrupted due to air traffic congestion in Kathmandu."
He added that it becomes difficult to hold passengers in case flights are delayed. "Sometimes the number of passengers in our departure hall rises to 500. We cannot accommodate so many passengers at a time due to infrastructure constraints. Our capacity is a maximum of 250 passengers," he added.
Guragain estimates that the passenger crowd will increase further in 2020. "As the government is celebrating 2020 as Visit Nepal Year (VNY) with the target of welcoming 2 million tourists, the number of tourists using Pokhara airport will increase. Also, the number of Nepalese using air service is rising steadily," he added.
According to the airport officials, the number of air passengers has increased also because of operation of flights to Bhairahawa and Bharatpur from Pokhara and vice versa.