Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), the country’s sole international airport with a single runway, facing acute problem of parking for both international and domestic flights followed by lack of sufficient parking bay.
Mr. Birendra Prasad Shrestha, Spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) said that flocking of arrival aircraft and the lack of parking space has been imposing an aircraft’s to undergo a holding pattern on the airspace.
The schedule arrival aircraft must sometimes go through holding pattern on air for half an hour, sometimes even 1.5 hours, airport official informed.
TIA witnesses severe air traffic congestion due to increasing movements of larger jets, placing air traffic controllers under heavy stress. Because of confined parking bays, often aircraft’s are forced to park at the taxiway.
An unwelcome hold for an aircraft’s on air has to lose their ATF (Air Turbine Fuel) unnecessarily impacting operator to lose their revenue also disturbs forth scheduled. On addition to cope to manage aircraft’s hold in air also puts ATC under pressure.
The safety procedures at the ramp of TIA is not followed up to the mark as some of the airline operator were observed disembarking passengers at the taxiway (as seen in the picture above) due to unavailability of parking space. Airport being a delicate place requires safety as its top priority however, this type of activities reflect hazardous environment and also violate standard operating protocols which need to be taken into attention asap.
After the operation of the Second generation radar, managing arrival and departing traffic has been eased, Senior ATC Officer at the airport acknowledges. During extensive air traffic, international flights are diverted to Dharke, Banepa, and Makwanpur while domestic flights are put on hold above Bhaktapur, Kirtipur, Swoyambhu, Nalinchowk, etc.
“It’s also a tough task for air traffic controllers and TIA officials to ensure smooth and safe flight operations due to lack of parking bays these days,” TIA spokesperson Prem Nath Thakur admitted.
Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) and Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) itself have created a controversy for Issuing and renewing licenses to fly international routes. As, CAAN has stated that the new airline companies at the present time will not receive AOC due to escalating air traffic and parking bay congestion at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).
BB Airways, international private operator of Nepal, who recently bought the national flag carrier, Nepal Airlines Corporation’s Boeing 757 is also experiencing harsh time as CAAN is denying the transfer of ownership and approval of flight permissions.
The AIS Department (Aeronautical Information Service) of CAAN has revised the Coordinates of both International and Domestic Parking Bay of TIA which was effective from January 29, 2018.
The current report of the airport shows that the international apron holds nine parking bay sections out of which first four-bay section are capable of holding wide-body aircraft (B747-400 or similar types of aircraft) and the remaining five can only accommodate narrow-body jets. The existing nine parking bays are insufficient in normal days for TIA to handle the aircraft and the foreign carriers are severely strained to increase their flight frequency at this situation. The airport authorities have to adjust flight schedule accordingly.
Likewise, towards the domestic apron, the airport has seventeen parking bays i.e; first eight for HS-748 or equivalent types of aircraft and remaining nine for DHC-6 or equivalent type of aircraft.
But the domestic apron has not gone under maintenance for long time producing various hurdle and bumps, ripped off pitched on parking bay, which apparently raises the finger towards the authority that how concerned they are towards the safety of aerodromes and airport.
The airport aims to have 13 new international parking bays within the next three years (by 2020) which will reduce congestion at the country’s only international air gateway. TIA which opens 18 hours a day now handles more than 500 daily flights.