As Nepal emerged from centuries of isolation the people were found in dire need of basic facilities. Travel and transport was and still is a challenge to many Nepalis. The Himalaya, the youngest yet highest mountain range in the world, stretches from east to west all along Nepal’s northern border and is home to eight of the world’s highest peaks including the highest Mt. Everest at 8850m. Below the Himalaya is the Mahabharat hill range that covers over 65% of the total area of Nepal and gives way to the inner valleys like Kathmandu, Chitwan, Surkhet and the lower hill ranges like Churia and Siwalik and ultimately to the flatlands of the Tarai along the southern border of Nepal. A majority of Nepal’s population lives in remote villages in the rugged hills most of which unfortunately lack proper roads. In this geographically difficult terrain that is Nepal, building roads is a long and costly challenge that is yet to be overcome. More areas are increasingly having access to roads, however overland transport and travel is still unreliable in more than one way and more and more people are now depending on air transport.
After the restoration of multi party democracy in 1990 and the subsequent liberalization of the 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 there were none that could be described as completely safe and trustworthy, the family decided to take a risk and established Buddha Air. A brand new just of the factory Beech 1900D aircraft was purchased from the US based Raytheon Aircraft (now Hawker Beechcraft).
On 11 October 1997, Captain RK Sharma and German pilot Captain Kevin ST flew Buddha Air’s first batch of 16 passengers on flight BHA 100 board the Beechcraft 1900 D with the call sign 9N-AEE from Kathmandu’s domestic airport on an hour long mountain flight to Everest and back, something no other airline doing its maiden flight would have done. This helped set the confidence in Buddha Air in motion.
At a time when most airline companies were and still are operating with used aircrafts Buddha Air was the first and only airliner that to this day only uses brand new aircrafts. Passenger safety has always been, is, and will always be the first priority of Buddha Air. This core value has helped the company earn the trust of millions who have flown with Buddha Air. More than ten years down the line dozens of other airline companies have come and gone but Buddha Air continues to provide the safest and most reliable air transport service in Nepal.