Buddha Air (U4, Kathmandu) is planning to launch its first international service out of Kathmandu to Kolkata Int'l on September 1, 2018, Managing Director Birendra Bahadur Basnet has told Republica.

The Nepalese carrier intends to operate the route 3x weekly using ATR72-500 equipment. It hopes to attract Indian tourists visiting Nepal as the main target group of customers.

According to the ch-aviation capacity module, Air India is currently the sole airline on the Kathmandu-Kolkata route. The Indian flag carrier operates this service 4x weekly using A319-100 equipment. Basnet does not see Air India as a competitor, as, according to him, the two airlines will appeal to different customers.

Kathmandu is the only international airport in Nepal. In India, it is also connected to each of Delhi Int'l, Mumbai Int'l, and Bangalore Int'l.

Buddha Air had earlier announced it will acquire three Airbus A320s to launch a number of short- and medium-haul international services out of the new Pokhara International Airport, currently under construction, but this is not expected to happen before 2021.

Currently, Buddha Air operates domestic services in Nepal with a fleet of two Beech 1900Ds, three ATR42-300s, and four ATR72-500s. A delivery of the fifth Avions de Transport RĂ©gional 72-500 is expected shortly.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, Buddha Air is also certified to fly 2x weekly international service from Kathmandu to Varanasi; however, this route is not operated currently.