Air Astra Eyes Pokhara: First International Flights for Nepal's New Airport?

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Kathmandu, Nepal: Bangladeshi carrier Air Astra sets its sights on Pokhara, Nepal, seeking to become the first international airline to operate flights into the recently opened Pokhara International Airport.

Seeking Smooth Takeoff:

Air Astra has formally requested permission from Nepalese authorities to launch its first-ever international service, connecting Dhaka, Bangladesh, to the breathtaking tourist destination of Pokhara. This ambitious move hinges on securing exemptions from various fees, including landing, fuel, and parking charges.

Collaboration for Growth:

To secure the necessary approvals and fee waivers, Air Astra has approached both Nepal's Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and the Civil Aviation Authority. According to Buddhisagar Lamichhane, Deputy Secretary of the Ministry, Air Astra's proposal presents a "good opportunity" to increase international traffic at Pokhara International Airport. However, collaboration with other relevant ministries is required to finalize the fee exemptions.

Dominating the Dhaka-Pokhara Route:

If granted permission, Air Astra would become the sole operator on the Dhaka-Pokhara route, offering four weekly flights between the two cities. This initiative would leverage their current fleet of ATR72-600 turboprop aircraft, known for their efficiency on shorter routes.

Boosting International Connectivity:

Currently, the only existing air link between Bangladesh and Nepal is a single weekly flight between Dhaka and Kathmandu operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines (Bangladesh's national carrier) and Himalaya Airlines (Nepal's carrier). Air Astra's proposed service would significantly enhance connectivity between the two nations and potentially spark further international interest in Pokhara, a city known for its stunning mountain scenery.

Unveiling Pokhara's Potential:

Since its inauguration in 2023, Pokhara International Airport has yet to welcome any international flights. Air Astra's proposal, if successful, would mark a historic moment for the airport and potentially position Pokhara as a major international tourist destination.

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