March 17: The first inter-state direct flight between Province 1 and Gandaki Province has come to a halt since the beginning of March due to lack of passengers amid panic created by coronavirus. The historic flight linking Biratnagar and Pokhara was started from February 3. The last flight was on February 28.
''We couldn't get enough passengers on our 18-seater Beechcraft 1900D aircraft from the beginning,'' informed Kausal Bhandari, the Biratnagar station manager of Buddha Air, which started the maiden flight.
''Coronavirus added insult to our injury,'' he added. Bhandari said seven Indian passengers from Pokhara cancelled their tickets on their last flight owing to coronavirus scare.
''We didn't find foreigners from the beginning and when we were about to lure high-paying tourists from Pokhara to Biratnagar, coronavirus came in our way disrupting all flights,'' said Bhandari.
The private carrier had started three flights in a week in every alternate day with introductory price of Rs 7200. Had the 205 nautical miles and 65-minutes-long flight been a success story for couple of months, Nepal's largest private aviation player in terms of annual passengers, was going to introduce 72-seater aircraft, said Bhandari. - RSS