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Thick fog halts flights at Dhangadhi Airport

  • In 2014, airlines cancelled 12,675 flights, most of them due to bad weather conditions during winter, which led to losses in the millions
- MOHAN BUDHYAR, DHANGADHI

Feb 5, 2018-Scheduled flights in Dhangadhi have been affected since the last few days due to thick fog. According to the airport authority, flight cancellations and delays have caused inconvenience for hundreds of travellers in province 7. 

Almost all flights in Dhangadhi Airport are operated under visual flight rules (VFR) which requires 5km visibility, said Chabi Singh Thakulla, chief of the airport. The VFR is a set of regulations under which a pilot operates an aircraft in weather conditions 

generally clear enough to allow the pilot to see where the aircraft is going. In winter, most of the flights are cancelled, he said. 

A government report shows that domestic carriers have been forced to cancel one-third of their scheduled flights because of heavy rain, high winds or blinding fog. In 2014, airlines cancelled 12,675 flights, most of them due to bad weather conditions during winter, which led to losses in the millions. 

Since mid-December, flights have been affected for more than 15 days due to thick fog. The airport was closed for two consecutive days during the oath taking ceremony of provincial assembly members in province 7. Some members missed the ceremony.

“After Dhangadhi was declared as the provincial capital of Province 7, the airport has become more important,” said Rupesh Swar, general secretary of the Kailali Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “It is due for an upgrade. The airport needs to be equipped with night landing and take-off facilities.”

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has allocated budget to install VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) and distance measuring equipment (DME) in Dhangadhi this year to modernise the airport’s navigational equipment. “Most of the travellers have to turned away after the flight is cancelled suddenly,” said Surendra Chand of Raika Tour and Travels. “The frequent changes in the weather in the Tarai belt have been creating hassles for travellers.” Airport chief Thakulla said that Dhangadhi airport is not equipped with modern facilities. He said that after the airport is equipped with VOR/ DME, flights can be operated under 1.5km visibility. 

Due to the frequent weather problem, Buddha Air and Shree Airlines have reduced their flight frequency.  Even though Dhangadhi Airport is the second biggest airport after Tribhuvan International Airport in terms of runway length, the government has not accorded priority to make the airport a shortest point to connect Delhi, India. “The airport needs to be upgraded to an international facility,” said Swar. “For this we have been pressurizing the government.” 

Published: 05-02-2018 09:02

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