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Biratnagar Airport resumes operations after a week

- DEO NARAYAN SHAH, MORANG

Aug 20, 2017-Biratnagar Airport, which had remained closed for the past one week after being inundated with flood water, resumed operations yesterday. 

The airport was deemed ready for operations after a team of Nepal Army cleaned the mud and sand deposited on the runway by the flooding. It took 160 army personnel four days to clear the debris from the runway.

Airport operations resumed after a week, with Surya Airlines launching its Bombardier aircraft at 10:15 AM on Saturday, according to Suresh Man Singh, director of Civil Aviation Office (CAO) of Biratnagar. 

A total of five flights took off from Biratnagar Airport on Saturday—two from Surya and three from Yeti Airlines.

Buddha Air and Nepal Airlines will resume their flights from Sunday and Monday respectively, according to the CAO. Before the floods, there used to be 13 flights taking off from the airport daily with Buddha’s 6, Yeti’s 4, Saurya’s 2 and Nepal Airline’s 1.   

“As the flood has damaged the runway light of the airport, flights are possible only during the day time,” said Singh. “It will take at least a month to repair the runway lights and bring the airport back up to the condition before the flooding.” 

The flood also damaged both x-ray machines at the airport and the authorities are planning to bring replacement machines soon. Singh told Post that the flood has damaged infrastructure worth Rs 100 million. 

Also, the airport is not yet supplying air fuel to the flights as flood water has entered the storage tank of the fuel. The airport was storing 257,900 litres of fuel at the time of flooding.  

“It will take a couple of weeks to check the quality of the air fuel,” said Singh. As the planes have to carry extra fuel from Kathmandu airport, they are facing difficulty in operating connecting flights from Biratnagar Airport.

The closure of the airport has affected hundreds of travellers. Biratnagar is the country’s second busiest airport after Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. However, the airport’s helipad managed to escape unscathed from the floods.

 The airport authority said the Shree Airlines jet that had been stranded at the airport since last week took off on Thursday.  

Biratnagar is a crucial hub, with several daily flights to destinations in the East such as Taplejung, Tumlingtar, Bhojpur, Lamidanda, Rumjatar and Phaplu.

In 2015, the airport handled 9,362 flights. The annual passenger movement through the airport stands at more than 340,202. 

Published: 20-08-2017 10:11

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