Back in the 1950s, the people of Pokhara saw an aircraft before they saw cars. In fact, the first tyres they saw were on the undercarriage of the first DC-3 that landed on a flight from Kathmandu.
Ever since, Kathmandu’s top tourist town has dreamt of an international airport that will connect Pokhara directly to cities in the region without having to fly to Kathmandu first. The existing airport has a north-south runway with mountains directly on approach, and was not appropriate for bigger jets.
Fifty years after it was first proposed, the dream is finally come true. Pokhara’s new airport and Nepal’s third international aerial gateway, is on track to begin operations by December 2020.
Delayed by decades of turf battles, the lack of political will, bureaucratic hurdles, local opposition and corruption in high places, construction of the $216 million facility that can handle 800,000 passengers a year is currently getting finishing touches.