SURKHET, Oct 13: Locals of Karnali have been facing problems after four airlines stopped operating Surkhet-Karnali flights.
Now, only two aircrafts -- Goma Air and Tara Air -- are flying passengers to Mugu, Jumla, Humla and Dolpa districts of Karnali. While Tara Air plane carries 19 passengers at once, Goma Air planes only have the capacity of nine passengers each.
Although Goma Air has been operating all its flights from Surkhet to Karnali, Tara Air has divided its flights between Surkhet and Nepalgunj. Tara Air operates five flights every day.
According to Chhabi Thakulla, Acting Chief of the Office of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), Surkhet, Sita Air, Makalu Air and Kasthmanda Air have already stopped operating their planes on the Surkhet-Karnali route. Until recently, these three airlines had been operating at least one flight each on the Surkhet-Karnali route. Tara Air has only one aircraft now.
Sita Air started operating its only Karnali-bound aircraft after its previous Lukla-bound plane crashed in Bhaktapur nearly two weeks ago. While the only Karnali-bound plane of Makalu Air was grounded recently, Kasthmandap Air stopped flights on the Surkhet-Karnali route, citing lack of cargo.
With the decrease in the number of flights from Surkhet to Karnali, people from Karnali who want to reach their homes for Dashain festival are struggling for flight tickets.
Lalita Rokaya, a former Maoist combatant, wants to reach home to Khated of Mugu district before Dashain. She came to Birendranagar from Dasharathpur of Surkhet four days ago but tickets are not available. "No tickets are available," said a disappointed Lalita, who also has a four-year-old daughter. "I can´t walk all the way to my house, either."
An agent has promised to help Lalita find a ticket to Jumla for Rs 9,000. However, Lalita is in a dilemma over whether to buy a ticket to Jumla and then walk all the way to Mugu. "Even if I land in Jumla, how can I walk all the way to my home with my little daughter," she said.
The dearth of flights has affected Mugu-bound passengers the most. Tara Air, which has more seats, has refused to operate its flights to Mugu district.
"If Tara Air had operated its flights to Mugu district, we would not have faced such a huge problem," said Topendra Budha, of Raragaun in Mugu district.