Blooming aviation urges for airport expansion in Nepal
May 26, 2017-Kathmandu
Looking to the current scenario of aviation development in the country one can witness the introduction of the additional fleet by the majority of airline operator in domestic and international operation. Likewise, many new operators to have been introduced.
So far 2017 has witnessed a maximum number of fleet introduction by the majority of the airline operators both in domestic and international air operation. Goma Air (Currently Summit Air) introduced two LET-410 aircraft to its fleet earlier this year. Similarly, Saurya welcomed its second CRJ jet aircraft. Likewise, Shree Airlines and Gorkha received their air operation certificate and Shree has already landed both of its CRJ jets for the domestic flight operation. Buddha added ATR 72-500 to its air operation and Himalaya welcomed two new Airbus A320. Nepal Airlines is working to welcome two Airbus A330 and Yeti has also decided to acquire two ATR 72-500 by July this year.
The current trend of aircraft operators’ desperateness of acquiring additional fleet clearly notifies us the growth of aviation in Nepal. Aircraft in one hand are increasing in ascending number but airports with its infrastructures in the other hand have remained unchanged. This ascending number of aircraft results in inundated airport service which results in narrowed and congested air traffic.
The country so far only holds a single international airport through which 28 national and international carriers are currently conducting international air operation whereas the entire capital connecting domestic flights to have been operated through the same airport. This rush of both domestic and international operation has resulted in busy air traffic which has narrowed the sky beneath.
At present airport authority at TIA is busy handling congested air traffic. Flight crews and passengers on the other hand are troubled with delayed and halted flight operation. At one side majority of airports only possess VFR service and at other airlines are busy introducing additional fleet which indeed results in cancellation of flight normally dues to busy and packed air traffic. Thus cancellation and halted air operation also result in depressed flight crew. Depressed flight crew at one end can result in a crash of an aircraft.
The busy and packed air traffic even leads on to long hold and hold pattern beneath TIA sky. These long hold of the aircraft directly impacts on to the wastage of Air Turbine Fuel. In some situation aircraft both domestic and international are diverted to overcome further circumstances. Domestic and small-sized aircraft though can be diverted to the airport within the county’s premises but international and big aircraft are compelled to land in foreign territory due to the lacking of proper and broaden airfields.
According to the spokesperson of TIA Mr. Prem Nath Thakur, he reported us that at present TIA handles around five hundred landings and take off both domestic and international per day. The airport normally operates from 6 am in the morning and is shut at 12:30 at midnight. The airport is packed with the traffic from the opening hour throughout the day. Bad weather and low visibility even led the airport to nightmare causing hurdle air operation.
Civil Aviation Authority still aware about these circumstances have been approving the fleets for the airlines but are not bothered in developing the airport facility. Though the authorities have been working to add three international (Gautam Buddha, Pokhara & Nijgadh) airport to the country but are still lacking behind in the construction process.
The construction of Pokhara International Airport (at Chinnedanda-3 km to the east of Pokhara’s present domestic airport) was inaugurated by then Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli on April 13, 2016. But the construction of the airport is still pending due prolong loan acquiring process. The tender was secured by the Chinese Engineering Company CMACE. The Company has planned to construct the International Airport with projected amount of 215 Million US Dollar which will be credited by Exim Bank of China.
Similarly, the construction of the Gautam Buddha Airport has finally resumed after a long halt caused by the sub constructor. The Chinese contractor ran out of the budget when one of its subcontractors (supplier of construction materials) flees away causing in delay of airport construction. The San Jose successor of TIA renovation contractor was terminated as it ran out of the allocated time of contract and the renovation job of the airport is pending behind. Likewise, Nijgadh airport has been the target to be the biggest in South Asia but the construction of the airport has not been started. Though Landmark has already handed the field report and is willing to take on the construction job. The government and aviation authority have not shown their interest in the construction of the airport. Yet the minister always claims on constructing the airport in each of their public rallies.