VVIP flight creates delays

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 3, 2016-

Travellers flying into and out of Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) were delayed several hours on Wednesday as the airport was closed for the VVIP flight of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee who was arriving on a state visit to Nepal.

The country’s sole international airport was made off-limits to other aircraft for 45 minutes from 12:10 pm to 12:55 pm. The airport reopened to chaos due to the backlog of flights that had piled up. TIA handles around 70 international flights on average daily. 

According to live flight tracker Flightradar24, a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai, Nepal Airlines flight from Delhi and others were kept circling over Hetauda as they waited for the jam at TIA to clear.   “The situation returned to normal after three hours,” said an airline official. “Almost all airlines had to face delays.” According to air traffic controllers, most of the flights were put into a holding pattern for 30-45 minutes. “Planes were kept waiting on the ground too.”

Airline officials commended air traffic controllers for handling the confusion well. “Despite such pressure, air traffic controllers responded quickly,” said an airline official who did not wish to be named. “Indeed, it was a ‘very quick’ response to clear the logjam.” 

Meanwhile, officials said that they had been facing problems due to lack of adequate parking bays during the peak tourist season as one of the nine bays has been dug up for maintenance. The number four parking bay was dug up almost a month ago. “There has been no progress in the repair work since then.” 

Almost all international carriers double their flight frequency to Nepal during the October-November period when the peak tourist season and festival rush coincide. 

International passenger traffic through TIA dropped 3.14 percent in the first six months of 2016. 

According to TIA, the 27 international airlines serving Kathmandu flew 1.66 million passengers between January and June this year. 

The negative passenger traffic growth has been attributed to the April earthquake and fuel crisis caused by an economic blockade by India.

Published: 03-11-2016 07:59

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