Around 22 domestic airports of the country have been out of operation for a long time. Among 22 airports, some are closed after conducting scheduled flights and some are closed even before conducting test flights.

Though the airport conducts test flights along with new government every time, it has failed to conduct regular flights that have wasted the government budget.

Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation conducted test flights at 5 airports where only two airports: Rajbiraj airport and Baglung airport were conducting regular flights but halted operations soon. Fagunanda airport of Illam, Sanphebagar airport of Achham, and Reshunga airport failed to operate regular flights after completing test flights.

As per CAAN, the test flights cost around Rs 4-5 lakhs conducting one test flight at the airport.

CAAN informed the test flight conducted previously at Fagunanda airport cost 4.5 lakhs, Rs90,000 for Balewa airport, 1.5 lakhs for Reshunga airport. However, the airline companies did not charge for conducting test flights at Sanphebagar airport and Rajbiraj airport.

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Jiri Airport’s Runway turned into a football ground

Reshunga of Gulmi is the hometown of Foreign Minister Pradip Gyanwali and Minister of Labor and Employment Gokarna Bista whereas Sanphebagar is the home district of CPN-UML leader Bhim Rawal. Fagunanda of Illam is the hometown of CPN-UML leader and former Prime Minister Jhal Nath Khanal. Previously, in a program organized at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Sanjeev Gautam complained about pressure given by those leaders for construction airport.

Gautam said that the airport could not conduct regular flights despite listing the construction of the airport on the agenda of political leaders.

The technical team formed by Tourism Minister to formulate necessary suggestions in expanding air service also advised not to construct additional airports without making arrangements to operate the constructed airport.

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The airport ground being turned into a grazing field in Mahendra Nagar of Kanchanpur district Photo: RSS

Due to a lack of pilots and aircraft in Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), there are no regular flights all over the country whereas the private airline company has claimed that they have failed to conduct regular flights due to insufficient passengers.

Baitadi Airport operated in 1978; Bajhang airport in 1976, Dang airport in 1961, and Darchula airport in 1986 are out of operation. Likewise, Dhorpatan airport, Doti airport, Jiri airport, Kangeldanda airport, Langtang airport Mahendranagar airport, Manang airport, Masinchaur airport, Palungtar airport, Rolpa airport, Sangbochey airport, Tikapur airport, and Achham airport have been closed.

Argha airport is being constructed at Arghakhanchi and Khagichandeshwari of Okhaldunga because of the failure to conduct regular flights after completing test flights.

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AERIAL VIEW OF MANANG AIRPORT

According to CAAN, 7 airports are conducting charter flights and 12 airports are operating regular flights. There is more air traffic in 7 airports. Biratnagar airport, Gautam Buddha Airport, Nepalgunj Airport, and Pokhara Airport are domestic hub airports.

43 airports are reported to be in loss out of 50 airports of the country. Along with Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Pokhara airport, Bhairahawa airport, Lukla airport, Bharatpur airport, Simikot airport, Nepalgunj airport have been generating satisfactory revenue.

Currently, there are 29 airports in operations conducting charter/regular flights in which 22 airports are bearing the loss.

Janakpur Airport, Simara airport, Surkhet airport, Biratnagar airport, Jumla airport, Rukum airport, Rumjatar airport, Thamkharka airport, Tumlingtar airport, Chandragadhi airport, and Dhangadi airport are facing big loss said a report of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN). Bajura airport, Bhojpur airport, Dolpa airport, Jomsom airport, Khanidanda airport, Phaplu airport, Rara airport located in the mountain region is in the loss. Lamidanda airport, Ramechhap airport, Chaujahari airport, Salley airport, Rumjatar airport, Taplejung airport, and Thamkharka airport are also in the loss despite operating charter flights only. Meghauli airport, Sanpheybagar airport, Kalikot airport, Kamalbagar airport, Manang airport, Doti airport has been out of operation out of 22 airports.

On the other hand, more than 5 airports: Agharkhachi airport, Gulmi airport, Kalikot airport, and Khichichandeshwori airport are under construction. Illam airport and Gulmi airport have already completed test flights. According to the Authority, there are 55 airports in the country along with airports that are under construction. The number of airport’s runway blacktopped has reached 31.