June 16, 2017
Kangel Danda Airport, located at an elevation of 6880 ft. in Sagarmatha Zone, Eastern Nepal, is one of the iconic airstrips of Nepal. The STOLPORT airport with ICAO code ‘VNKL’ features runway of length 580 meters aligned to 11/29 degrees and is situated at the top of a hill. It was established on 1996-97 to facilitate over dozens of villages at Kangel and Khotang.
However, it has already been a couple of year that the Kangel Danda Airport has been out of operation. Previously, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) and Tara Air used to operate schedule flights to the airport with their Canadian made Twin Otter aircraft. NAC used to conduct 3 flights weekly to Kangel after Tara Air terminated their flight operations to the airport.
The Kangel Danda Airport is under the supervision of the government of Nepal i.e. Civil Aviation Authority of Kangel Danda. The airport contains an uncontrolled Air Traffic Control Tower, a Security building and an administration office. The airport’s parking bay can hold only one aircraft.
Mostly, the flights used to happen before 10 in the morning as the wind become aggressive at day time. Besides, the airport also features constantly changing weather and a rough runway. In rainy season, the airport remains out of operation.
Today, helicopters flying to their destination via Kangel airspace sometime land at the Kangel Danda Airport in case of any emergencies making the airport as an alternative. Both ends of the runway features deadly drop and at one side of the runway there is a dense forest with a small pond whereas other side is occupied by control tower and security building. Behind the dense forest, there is a heli-pad especially designed for military purposes as only military helicopters are authorized to land there.
The airport boundary is fenced with wire mesh and currently, a group of 7 police personnel are securing the aerodrome. Despite being one of the scary airfields of Nepal, the airport has not encountered major incidents till now.
The villagers were delighted to see the airport serving them on emergencies and day to day activities but the airport was forced to shut down after people started preferring roadways rather that the air travel as fare for road travel was comparatively low than that of air travel. The airport will continue its operation in near future if everything goes well.