I travelled to Nepal’s far-western district of Achham last week. Our main aim was to visit Bayalpata Hospital, a community-focused institution run by a US-based NGO called Possible, which is undergoing an impressive expansion.
More on that later. For now, here’s my small article about the revival of the airport in the town of Sanfbagar, near the hospital. From Nepali Times:
Marty Logan in Achham
Achham district, which is connected to the rest of the country through an arduous 8 hour journey from the Tarai, will soon revive its airfield in Sanfebagar.
Work to blacktop the runway, following a Maoist attack in February 2002, is ongoing, and the facility is expected to be ready before the rainy season. However, there are conflicting views about whether the airport will succeed.
A local worker in Sanfebagar told Nepali Times she would be wary about flying in if single engine planes are used to connect the district to Nepalganj or Surkhet.
However, a new restaurant owner is happy the airfield is finally reopening after 15 years, and would boost the economy of the region. The airfield could also service the nearby Bayalpata Hospital which caters to the medical needs of patients from six surrounding districts.
Airport runner Bijay Bahadur Kunwar said the facility will be opened by end-April. Officials plan to offer one flight per day but the schedule will be known only after a tender is issued for airlines to offer flight services.
“Demand should be sufficient to keep the airport operating because it will also serve surrounding districts such as Bajura, Doti, Kalikot and Dailekh,” added Kunwar. Currently, driving from Dhangadi is the fastest way to reach Sanfebagar from the East-West Highway.