Extending his gratitude to everyone who played a role in conceptualising and completing the project, Dahal said the long-awaited moment by the people of Pokhara had finally come. Stating that connectivity is an integral part of bringing positive development in the region, he said, “The newly-built airport will contribute to the economic development of not just Pokhara, but the whole country as well.”

Paudel also commended locals of Pokhara for their sacrifices and patience for the completion of the project.

“With the completion of a new international airport in the region, the question remains on how we can make the most effective use of the airport. I urge the authorities to complete all the necessary processes responsibly to conduct international travel from the airport. There is also a need to link Pokhara with other areas of the country to increase tourism activities within the country and we are working towards proper upgradation and maintenance of roadways to ease connectivity among them. The government will focus on developing necessary physical infrastructure across the country to reach the targeted milestones in other sectors as well,” he said.

Regional Director of the Asia and Pacific Office of the International Civil Aviation Organisation Tao Ma expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the government of Nepal for inviting him to the inauguration ceremony of PRIA.

Stating that the development of airport infrastructure and air services are vital for ensuring connectivity, socio-economic development, and disaster relief efforts in landlocked countries, he congratulated the government of Nepal on the completion of the national pride project.

“We are glad that CAAN has certified PRIA in line with ICAO standards and guidance. As we transition away from the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, the opening of PRIA, together with the Gautam Buddha International Airport, will assist in harnessing the expected increase in air traffic and ease congestion both in air space and on the ground across the country’s major airports. ICAO is grateful to the Nepali government and CAAN for their long-standing commitment, consistency, and comprehensive support to the organisation’s works,” he said.

Buddha Air, Shree Airlines, Yeti Airlines, and Guna Air have started conducting daily flights to and from the newly-built international airport.

Meanwhile, Himalaya Airlines performed a successful demonstration flight at PRIA today, becoming the first airline to land Airbus A320-214 in Pokhara.

CAMC Engineering Company was entrusted with the contract to build PRIA as a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative cooperation in May 2014. Construction work of the airport started in July 2017 at an estimated cost of Rs 22 billion.

Earlier, an aircraft of Aero Thai Company had conducted mechanical test flights (calibration flights) at PRIA from November 21 to 28. The mechanical test flights report had green-lighted starting operations to and from the new airport.

A version of this article appears in the print on January 2, 2023, of The Himalayan Times.