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Six airports in southern plains can handle night flights

  • Bhadrapur Airport is the newest entrant; Prime Minister to inaugurate the area navigation system today
- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Jan 31, 2019-

Six out of nine airports in the country’s southern plains are now capable of handling night flights, with Bhadrapur Airport in the eastern region of Jhapa becoming the newest entrant after being equipped with area navigation technology.

On Wednesday, Buddha Air conducted a successful flight test of the area navigation (RNAV) operations system at the Bhadrapur Airport, also known as Chandragadi Airport, in coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).

The RNAV technology ensures that the chance of a flight being cancelled due to bad weather or low visibility is negligible. It also enables flights to be operated during night time. In the past, lack of technology forced domestic airlines operators to stop their operation after 5pm.  

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is scheduled to inaugurate the RNAV system at Bhadrapur Airport on Thursday.

“Night flights are now possible at Bhadrapur Airport,” said Buddha Air in a press statement.

“With the RNAV system, flights can be operated even under low visibility. As the installation of runway lights has been completed at the airport, it will allow night flights to be operated more safely. This technology has been adopted worldwide for safe air operations.”

Bhadrapur, Dhangadhi, Nepalgunj, Bhairahawa, Simara and Biratnagar airports are equipped with night operation facilities. As this technology was not available at Bhadrapur Airport, airlines had to cancel or delay flights to Bhadrapur due to low visibility and flights could not be operated after sunset, the airline said. “This led to a huge burden on travelers along with financial burden on airline operators.”

Also read: New parking bays to ease congestion at Tribhuvan Int’l Airport

Bhadrapur is the gateway to eastern Nepal and districts like Jhapa, Ilam, Panchthar and Taplejung. Moreover, Bhadrapur also connects travellers to cities in India like Siliguri, Darjeeling, Sikkim and even to Bhutan and Bangladesh.

“With close coordination with CAAN, we are hopeful to expand the infrastructure to other airports in Tumlingtar, Surkhet, Janakpur and Bharatpur as well,” said Buddha Air.

“We are also planning to install the RNAV system at Janakpur Airport,” CAAN’s Director General Sanjiv Gautam, told the Post on Sunday.

“However, there are a number of trees in the surrounding areas of Janakpur Airport that need to be cut down in order for the system to function properly,” he said, adding that a concerned authority would be requested to remove the trees. He, however, said that the system would not be possible at Bharatpur Airport due to a number of obstacles. In Dhangadhi, the RNAV system was implemented on March 1 last year.

According to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), they are planning to request domestic operators to conduct at least 20 percent of their flights during night time, which will significantly reduce the traffic congestion at Kathmandu’s airport.  

TIA handles more than 100,000 take-offs and landings a year—80 percent of them domestic flights.  

According to the data of TIA, the country’s domestic passenger traffic grew 16.49 percent to 1.98 million in the January-September period of 2018. The figure includes 33,996 passengers flown by helicopters and single-engine aircraft.

Flight movement increased 3 percent to 66,453 flights. This means on average, Nepali skies saw 246 domestic flights daily.

Published: 31-01-2019 09:12

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