An airport was built in Pokhara, Now the worry of paragliding

Nepali Janta

Kaski, August 11 – Pokhara is known as a city of adventure tourism along with natural beauty. Paragliding in Pokhara has won the hearts of many tourists in the field of adventure tourism. For the last time, paragliding has been the choice of domestic and foreign tourists.

After the first phase of the Corona epidemic, paragliding in Pokhara was a special choice for domestic tourists. Probably because Nepalis who have been confined at home for months want to have a good time as soon as the ban is lifted, many who came to Pokhara chose paragliding. It also helped to boost tourism in Pokhara. The company had made the skies of Pokhara colorful with 500 to 700 daily flights with 50 to 60 percent discounts.

Meanwhile, tourism in Pokhara has come to a standstill due to a new strain of corona virus. The tourism entrepreneurs are drawing the attention of the concerned bodies to prevent the entrepreneurs of the region from being displaced by bringing easy vaccination and tourism friendly policy. Meanwhile, as the construction work of Pokhara Regional Airport is nearing its final stage, the paragliding businessmen of the region are looking for the future of their business.

Since the construction of the regional international airport in Pokhara began in 2017, the issue of whether paragliding flights from Pokhara’s Sarangkot could be continued has been discussed. At present, the work of the airport is about 82 percent complete. Entrepreneurs are worried that paragliding, which has been operating for years, will have to be replaced due to the airport coming into operation in the near future.

Meanwhile, a team of the Air Sports Association visited the airport a few days ago and presented the institutional views of the paragliding businessmen to the management. Chairman of the organization Krishna Bhandari said that he was confident that paragliding, which was branded as an adventure sport in Pokhara, would be continued from the same place by emphasizing on the highest technology and management. He said, “Some technicalities have been shown, but flight is not impossible if managed with the use of high technology. If flying is possible every second in Singapore, it is not impossible to manage here.” He cited the example of Tenzing Hillary Airport in Lukla, Nepal, which is one of the most risky airports in the world but operates with security guarantees due to efficient management. “If the Civil Aviation Authority can also focus on efficient management, paragliding will not be hampered along with the operation of the airport,” Bhandari said.

He said that while the construction work of the airport was nearing completion, he demanded the management to make a plan to operate paragliding in the same place in the upcoming ‘Operation Procedure Design’. Secretary General of the organization Balram Acharya said that if paragliding flight in Pokhara is technically problematic, it can be continued according to the international model. “There may be problems but there is no problem that cannot be solved. Only by creating a ‘safe zone’ and strictly following the policy rules, paragliding can be done along with the airport,” said Acharya.

As paragliding is also a product of tourism activities, he estimates that displacing it from here could reduce the tourist attraction. He said that an eight-member task force has been formed under the coordination of Deputy Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, Subhash Jha, to study the operation and management of paragliding as per the decision of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The report submitted by the task force on paragliding mentions two options. In the first option, some conditions have been put forward for operating the service from the former territory, in which countries like Switzerland, Italy, France, etc., which are conducting paragliding operations around international airports using modern technology or any other administrative means, have been followed. The report suggests setting a time of two hours for paragliding operations, strictly adhering to the maximum height of the ‘paragliding zone’ and monitoring and controlling the ATC tower with the latest technology.

Similarly, as a second option, the task force has mentioned that it can operate from other areas than the previous one. He said that paragliding would have to be conducted from areas other than Sarangkot, Toripani and Mandredhunga areas outside the airspace of Pokhara International Airport.

Binesh Munkarmi, chief of the airport project, said that the Sarangkot area would not be used for international flights and landings. On the other hand, he said that paragliding operations could be hampered as the route of domestic flights falls in the same area. Munkarmi stressed on the need to give priority to safety as the flight and landing work of the ship is very sensitive as they are positive in this regard. However, he said that since he was not an expert on the subject, it would be better to come up with an official opinion only after a study by technical experts.

Yama Bhandari, head of the advisory group, said that without a comprehensive study and mapping, it would not be possible to talk about it now. “Alternatives can be found only by studying the technical and aviation security situation, but it cannot be concluded that paragliding can be conducted right now,” Bhandari said.

In Pokhara and surrounding areas, the service was first operated from 1997 by ultralight aircraft and from 2001 by unmanned paraglider. Since then, 79 companies have come into operation. There are 70 paragliding companies, three paragliding flying schools, four ultralight companies and one hot air balloon company. According to Anil KC, vice-chairman of the organization, there are currently 60 paragliding companies in operation. Three hundred and forty-two Nepali parapilots are flying commercial flights in Pokhara alone with an investment of around Rs one billion. There are about 15 foreign parapilots. According to KC, more than a thousand people have got direct employment in the paragliding sector.

Shailendra Raut, advisor to the organization, said that new problems and challenges are being added to the operation and management of the sector due to the increasing number of adventurous and recreational aviation activities that have been increasing day by day in the last few years. According to him, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has appointed Nepal Air Sports Association (NA) Pokhara as the official body to regulate and manage the paragliding service in Gandaki. Has come

The agreement was to complete the construction of Pokhara Regional International Airport on July 10, 2021, which has been a project of national pride since November 2017. The Chinese contractor company CAMCE has been saying that the construction will be completed and handed over six months ahead of schedule, but due to Corona, the airport has been postponed for one more year till July 10, 2022.

Published Date : 11 Aug 2021

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