Tourism Entrepreneurs in Lunibni asked the government to install necessary technical equipments at Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) to avoid flight cancelations due to weather.
They called following the weather-induced cancelation of flights at the GBIA has negatively impacted the tourism businesses of Bhairahawa.
Rachana Pant, first vice president of the Lumbini Province chapter of the Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA), said that the such cancellations, caused by fog and poor visibility, had prevented tourists from making hotel bookings.
“Tourists prefer to come here in the months of January, February and March,” she said. “They want to arrive without any hassles and do not like it when their flights are delayed or cancelled.”
Pant worried that the lack of flights would cause great harm to the businesses reliant on tourist-inflow.
Jazeera Airways and Himalaya Airlines, the only two carriers that provide international flights from the airport, have stopped their services completely while domestic companies have not been able to fly as scheduled due to the thick fog.
This need not have been the case though because GBIA is equipped with an Instrument Landing System (ILS) which, according to the airport’s Managing Director Govinda Prasad Dahal, can enable planes to land in low visibility conditions. But it has not been brought into operation.
“Because we are an airport located near the border, our ILS will cover the Indian skies as well. So, we need to get permission from India to bring it into use which requires a dialogue at the higher level,” Dahal shared.
And the private sector finds the delay in holding this dialogue inexcusable. Bhisma Neupane, president of the Siddhartha Chamber of Commerce and Industry, called it “inappropriate” to not use an already-available technology to facilitate landing at the airport.
Commercial flights to and from Bhairahawa started in 1964 from a grassy airfield. The airfield was upgraded to a domestic airport two years later. In 2015, the government of Sushil Koirala began work on building the international airport, which took seven years and nearly Rs. 35 billion to complete reports The Rising Nepal.