Tourism Minister Ravindra Adhikari said that there will be no commercial helicopter flight to Annapurna Base Camp except for rescue and relief purpose. Minister Adhikari suggested so in a short interview with journalists while taking part in the formal inauguration ceremony of the Mountain Festival that kicked off from Monday.
Minister Adhikari said that it seemed inappropriate to operate helicopters for commercial purpose. He also added that there will be no restrictions for helicopters to fly in other nearby areas. He said, ” I have directed Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal not to operate unnecessary helicopter flights. The environment of ACAP shouldn’t be spoiled by unmanaged flights.”
The decision made by Annapurna Rural Municipality in last Asadh to prohibit corporate flights in region has not been brought into implementation. Yubaraj Kunwar, Municipal Head said that the decision was made keeping in mind the direct adverse impacts in local ecology including wildlife and issues related to environmental pollution. He added that helicopter companies and concerned bodies were informed about the decision however the companies have neglected and disobeyed the Rural municipality’s decision.
Bhola Prasad Guragai, Head of the Pokhara Airport informed that three companies have been conducting 5-7 commercial helicopter flights regularly. He said that even though helicopters are flying regularly to ABC since few years, he is not informed by anyone about the flight. Chief Guragai also informed that around 35 flights are made daily to ABC from Pokhara airport during tourist season.
Prabhu Helicopter, Simrik Airlines and Air Dynasty Company have been conducting regular commercial flights to ABC for sight seeing. Dinesh Maharjan, Manager of Prabhu Helicopter Pvt, informed that the company is currently conducting 4 flights daily. He also said that 5 helicopters of campany are kept in stand-by mode for tourist’s sight seeing and rescue purpose at Pokhara airport. He said that cost of flying from Pokhara to ABC is 900 USD.
Helicopters who usually conduct emergency flights, are now conducting commercial chartered flights to tourist destinations.