The story of Buddha Air begins with a maiden flight to the top of the world on a Beechcraft 1900D on 11 October 1997. Since then, they have grown to be the largest and longest operating privately owned domestic airlines of Nepal.
As Nepal emerged from centuries of isolation, the people were found in dire need of basic facilities. Travel and transport were and still are a challenge to many Nepalese. The differences in terrain from the flatlands of the terai, the rugged hills and the tall mountains prove challenges when building proper transportation facilities. However, as Nepal went through democratic reforms and the liberalization of its economy, the private sector was encouraged to invest in public infrastructure and services.
Surendra Bahadur Basnet, the Chairman and founder of Buddha Air, a retired Supreme Court Justice, former Chief Election Commissioner and a minister in the former government of Nepal came from a simple farming background. His passion for serving the people whole heartedly remained unfettered even years after retiring from public service. In 1994 his youngest son Shivendra Bahadur Basnet had just returned from Ukraine after completing his training as a helicopter pilot. Realizing the need and growing demand for air transport of which none could be described as completely safe and trustworthy, the family decided to take a risk and established Buddha Air. A brand new, just out of the factory Beech 1900D aircraft was purchased from the US based Raytheon Aircraft (now Hawker Beechcraft) and the operation began.
First Take Off
On 11 October 1997, Captain RK Sharma and American pilot Captain Kevin St. Germain flew Buddha Air’s first batch of 16 passengers on flight BHA 100 on board the Beech craft 1900 D. With the call sign 9N-AEE from Kathmandu’s domestic airport, flight BHA 100 took its hour long flight to Mt Everest and back – an achievement no airlines had done in its maiden flight. This helped to set confidence in Buddha Air in motion.