Simikot Airport with limited space busy for handling large traffic for Hilsa flights

Simikot Airport with limited space busy for handling large traffic for Hilsa flights

Rohit Kapila 

Simikot – 19 August 2016

Starting from the month of May, the flight operations on Hilsa region of the northwestern part of Nepal has reached to peak travelling a lot of passengers daily by Nepal’s Civil Aircraft operators. As the number of visitors increased significantly towards this region specially Indians, Malaysian and Singaporean, the air operation on Simikot has also been directly impacted. Simikot Airport is the gateway to the Hilsa Helipad which is the entry point for visitors travelling to sacred place Mansarover.

Simikot Rush
Simikot Rush

Mansarover is a well known holy site for religious purpose of Hindus from India, Nepal and other countries. Hilsa is a town on the northwestern region of Nepal in Humla that borders Tibet, China and where the Karnali crosses from the Tibetan Plateau. Hilsa is in 51 kilometers road distance from Simikot that has been busy serving hundreds of passengers and dozens of helicopter daily in this peak season. Hilsa is connected by air from Simikot Airport that serves as transit point for devotee travellers from Kathmandu, Nepalgunj and Surkhet.

Helicopter companies including Simrik Air, Air Dynasty, Manang Air, Shree Airlines and Mountain Helicopters and fixed wing airliners including Goma Air, Tara Air aids the transportation of daily 100 to 150 passengers to Airport originated from Kathmandu, Nepalgunj or Surkhet. Two Let 410 aircraft operated by Goma air and three Dornier 228 aircraft operated by Tara air connects the passengers from different origins to Simikot and they are connected to light to Hilsa by helicopter operators by air.

Twin otter carrying 14 passengers makes 3 flights a day in Simikot. Similarly each Dornier carrying 15 passengers make 3 flights a day and each Let aircraft carrying 18 passengers makes 3 to 4 flights a day under favorable weather conditions because of which the passenger flow at Simikot airport has been highly increased. Daily each helicopter makes around twelve flights to Hilsa from Simikot but still 80 to 100 passengers are left behind in Simikot due to lack of flights.

The increased number of passengers and increased number of traffic has made Simikot Airport very congested in this season. The airport ramp area is too small to handle this volume of passengers and aircraft that creates a lot of difficulties for aircraft landing and helicopters taking off and landing. Most of the helicopters need to hover over the runway while other aircraft taxi to parking area. The operation has become more complex because of which daily service of the airport has been impacted. The arrival of one airplane makes several other helicopters to hover for a lot of time above the airport due to lack of parking space.

Simikot Airport that serves this flow of passengers daily collects a very high amount of taxes from them. The collected sum can be utilized for the expansion of the ramps and to increase the infrastructures of the airport. Thus the concerned authorities should be focused on these sectors soon to make the operation of airport smooth in coming days.

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