Rumjatar airport in Okhaldhunga district of Province-1 is closed after the district is linked with Kathmandu-Okhaldhunga road network.
No passengers prefer air journey to the road travel as the latter is more reliable. Road from Dhulikhel, Khurkot, Ghurmi to Okhaldhunga under Mid-Hill Highway has come into operation recently.
Monindra Shrestha, a resident of Siddhicharan Municipality-4, Rumjatar, said that public movement in the town has significantly decreased after the closing of the airport. According to him, passengers from Solukhumbu and Khotang districts also used to take flights to Kathmadu from Rumjatar as the fair was cheaper.
Shrestha said people can easily reach Kathmandu by bus at a cost of Rs. 750 to Rs. 1100 whereas flight charge is more expensive, Rs. 3630 for one-way flight to Kathmandu. Now the airport has no passengers to serve.
The distance from Rumjatar to Kathmandu is 215 kilometres which can be covered in 6 to 7 hours.
The airport is closed since March last year. It was closed with the nationwide lockdown imposed in March 2020 and couldn’t reopen when the lockdown was lifted.
Locals complained that the closure of the airport had impacted sick and elderly citizens who need immediate health service and have difficulty in taking the road travel.
Pralhad Niraula, Senior Officer at the airport, said that Tara Air and Nepal Airlines were operating flights to Rumjatar with small planes like Dornier and Twin Otter.
According to him, Tara Air had stopped its flights to and from Rumjatar and Nepal Airlines also neglected the destination. One senior officer, office assistant and six security personnel are still deployed at the Rumjatar Airport.
The airport that served for around five decades regularly with its muddy runway is closed after the creation of better infrastructures. “The government had invested a huge amount of money to upgrade the airport but it seems that effort has become worthless as there are no flight services,” Niraula said.
Mohan Shrestha, Mayor of Siddhicharan Municipality, said that dialogues were under way to resume flight services from the district. “We can explore our markets by connecting ourselves as a fuel centre to the airports in Bhojpur, Taplejung, Faplu and Lukla,” he said.
Source : THE RISING NEPAL,