Manang awaits promised flight serviceHumde Airport has not had regular flight service in years.
On September 13 this year, Minister of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment for Gandaki Province, Bikas Lamsal, made a bold proclamation during his trip to Humde in Manang.
Manang will see regular flights starting September 27, he had declared. Chief Minister Prithvi Subba Gurung, too, reiterated the announcement made by Lamsal.
It’s been more than a month past the September 27 deadline, and there is still no flight service in Manang.
Chhyungda Gurung, a local of Humde in Disyang Rural Municipality, said the not a single aircraft has reached the district as promised by Lamsal and Gurung.
The latest flight to reach Manang was the one that had carried the two ministers there.
“On September 27, we waited all day in vain for a flight. We then thought the flight service would start from the following week. But again, it was not to be,” Gurung said.
Minister Lamsal had told the people of Manang that the provincial government had reached an agreement with tourism entrepreneurs to operate flight service in Manang for four days of the week to attract tourists in view of the upcoming tourism year, Visit Nepal 2020.
“The tourism minister and the chief minister were delivering hollow speeches and nothing more,” said Kanchha Ghale, chief of Disyang Rural Municipality.
According to Surya Bahadur Khatri, director of Civil Aviation Authority, it takes about 25 minutes to reach Manang from Pokhara in a flight.Minister Lamsal, meanwhile, says that efforts are being made to start flight service in Manang, and the earlier plan to operate regular flights from September 27 was postponed for a multitude of reasons. “We are still in discussion on starting regular flight service,” said Lamsal.Humde Airport, which is located at an altitude of 3,330 metres from the sea level, was established in 1982.
The airport’s 600-metre runway was pitched and extended to 900 metres about six years back. Before the runway underwent a facelift, Manang would see flights twice every week. The flight service started to become rarer and was eventually discontinued after the district was linked with a motorable road.