By Laxman Paudel,Bhairahawa, Dec. 9: Rupandehi’s businessmen and industrialists have taken to the streets to protest the lack of international flights at the Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA). Thirty two organisations affiliated with Siddhartha Network Rupandehi (SNR) protested in Bhairahawa on Friday. Their protest started from Devkota Chowk and passed through Bank Road, Milan Chowk and Narayan Path to conclude at Buddha Chowk.
The protesters chanted slogans and demanded the establishment of offices related to immigration, customs, quarantine, post, labour and health checks at the airport.
SNR had earlier met Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and stakeholder agencies to demand the regular operation of international flights from GBIA. Talking to The Rising Nepal, SNR President Anil Kumar Gyawali said that the present protest would continue until this demand was met.
“The private sector invested over Rs. 60 billion in hotels and tourism businesses thinking the airport would be a game-changer. But now, we are afraid we will lose all that money,” Gyawali worried. The GBIA has not hosted an international flight for nearly a year.
Meanwhile, the Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATTA) and the Siddhartha Chamber of Commerce and Industry have been protesting separately, demanding that the state-owned Nepal Airlines Corporation operate domestic and international flights from the airport. They believe other carriers have not come to the airport because the national flag carrier has not.