Air Astra (2A, Dhaka) has requested permission to fly four times per week between Dhaka and Pokhara International, Nepal, and simultaneously applied for a raft of fee exemptions, including holidays on landing, fuel, turn-over tax, parking, and navigation charges. Astra will become the sole operator on the route if given the green light.

Multiple Kathmandu-based outlets report that the privately owned airline has approached the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation and the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) to secure flying rights and exemptions. Air Astra operates a fleet of three ATR72-600s to five airports within Nepal. As such, the Dhaka-Pokhara sector would be its maiden international service.

"The company has sought exemptions on various issues," said the Ministry's Deputy Secretary, Buddhisagar Lamichhane. "We need to coordinate with the relevant ministries for this. The proposal for direct flights at Pokhara International Airport is also a good opportunity for us."

Air Astra was not immediately available for comment.

Presently, the Nepal - Bangladesh country pair is served by one a week Biman Bangladesh Airlines (BG, Dhaka) and Himalaya Airlines (H9, Kathmandu) flights. US-Bangla Airlines (BS, Dhaka) had briefly flown into Pokhara International as part of a Dhaka - Pokhara -Kathmandu rotation, but the airline has discontinued the service. Pokhara International Airport has proved a white elephant since opening in early 2023. The ch-aviation schedules module shows there are no international flights in or out of the airport. Nepalese authorities are reportedly keen to increase traffic into the airport.