If you have been planning to visit Nepal, you may want to make some adjustments to your trip as the Tribhuvan International Airport In Nepal will remain partially shut for a much-needed runway rehabilitation. By Kumar Shree
Nepal’s sole international airport, the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), will remain closed for 10 hours a day starting April 1. This step has been taken in order to ensure that the runway rehabilitation work undergoes smoothly. The airport will operate from 8 am to 10 pm (12 hours) against its usual 22-hour schedule from April 1 to June 30. The entire process is expected to take three months in completion, post which TIA will return to its regular operational hours.
While the international flight norms suggest international airports to undergo the rehabilitation process every ten years, it is the first time that Nepal International Airport is undergoing the process since it came up around 50 years ago. That makes it the biggest and only rehabilitation work that the three-km long runway has undergone till date. Apart from the runway rehabilitation, the airport authorities are also planning on expansions in order to accommodate the increasing number of visitors to the Himalayan region.
The plan is to pitch the runway at 80 metres per day by the use of milling machines. During the rehabilitation work, the night-time international flights will be operated after 8 pm and the domestic flights scheduled at 8 am will operate at 10 am. Keeping the new operational hours in mind, the Malaysia Airlines, Jet Airways, Cathay Dragon, China Southern and Qatar Airway will have to reschedule their flights and have been given different time slots.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has allotted the China National Agro Technology International Engineering Corporation to undertake the process of rehabilitation and it is expected to cost INR 3.75 billion. The Nepal International airport currently operates about 400 flights on a daily basis including over 100 international flights, and the number can increase after the runway rehabilitation work is complete.