Paragliding Flights in Pokhara Hang in the Balance Amid Landing Dispute

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Kathmandu,Nepal: Tensions flare among tourism entrepreneurs in Pokhara as a new rift emerges over paragliding 'takeoff and landing' points, hot on the heels of a recent controversy regarding flight regulations. The escalating dispute has prompted intervention from Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority (CAAN), which issued a three-day ultimatum for resolution.

With 57 paragliding companies at odds, split into factions of 44 and 13, the latest feud revolves around access to prime landing spots. Earlier agreements to dismantle the one-door system and allow free market pricing had seemingly pacified the industry, leading to a significant drop in flight fees from Rs 12,000 to Rs 3,000 and a surge in tourist numbers.

However, newfound freedom has reignited tensions, with the larger group denying landing privileges to the minority. As 13 companies sought alternative landing sites, CAAN stepped in, emphasizing safety concerns and urging Nepal Airsports Association (NAA), the umbrella organization for paragliding professionals, to mediate.

Samita Shakya of CAAN stressed the need for equitable treatment among operators, warning of flight suspensions if conflicts persist. NAA, previously responsible for organizing flights under the one-door system, now faces challenges managing increased demand and landing constraints.

While some entrepreneurs advocate for Sarangkot as an alternate site, others cite overcrowding issues there as well. President of NAA, Sunil Bhattarai, acknowledges the mounting difficulties in coordinating operations amidst growing competition and diverging interests.

As Pokhara's skies hang in uncertainty, the fate of paragliding hinges on swift resolution and collaborative efforts to ensure safety and fair access for all stakeholders.

 

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