Tribhuvan International Airport in turmoil following hectic flight delays

The country’s sole international airport has been experiencing harsh situation as a result of increasing flight delays. The escalating number of air passengers and flight frequencies at the airport has been creating chaotic environment at the domestic terminal as well as International terminal of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). Passengers are required to wait for more than an hour to board their flight whereas flight crews sweat their bodies waiting for the clearance from ATC.

Passengers are really frustrated with their flights being delayed for more than an hour. Likewise, the smooth flight operation at the airport has been disrupted as the aircraft has to wait long for the takeoff and landing clearance at TIA.

The major reason behind the flight delays is the compulsion of TIA to facilitate all the uplifting domestic and international airline operators with only one runway available. The available narrow infrastructure of TIA is also not enough to accommodate all the aircraft. Although the domestic parking bay can hold 17 aircraft but it is accommodating more than 30 aircraft which is beyond its capacity. Likewise, increasing pollution and adverse weather phenomena at this winter season has become the icing on the cake.

Besides, lack of sufficient refuelers at TIA is also contributing flight delays. At present, there are only 6 fuel bowsers (refuelers) at TIA and the number of domestic aircraft are more than 50. Moreover, the same 6 fuel bowsers must facilitate international aircraft operating in TIA. This is practically very complex for only 6 bowser to provide refueling facility to such amount of aircraft. Airline companies are complaining about having difficulty in providing on-time flights to the passengers because there is no on-time refueling.

The ceiling of cloud and the visibility reduces at the winter season along with the increasing pollution that decreases the required minima for the effective flight operation so, the passengers have to wait until the situation gets better. Sometimes, airlines are compelled to cancel the flights due to such substandard weather conditions.

The trend of adding aircraft has been sky-high. Airline operators are boosting their fleet capacity thus congesting parking bay and enhancing flight delays. Moreover, the majority of airline operators are having their base at TIA which is another paramount problem for increasing flight delays.

Lack of parallel taxiway is also one of the major reasons for flight delays because in absence of end to end taxiway, the runway occupancy time increases resulting expedition in flow of traffic.

In addition, effective implementation of Safety Management System (SMS), Air Traffic Flow Management and Capacity Declaration have not been done yet. The airport management authorities are unable to implement scientific slot management strategies and also unable to replace old technologies and equipment.

Airline operators are required to hold for hefty time at the sky for landing clearance. Qatar Airways once conducted a 25 round holding pattern at the Kathmandu Airspace for receiving landing clearance. Such type of circumstances have been producing lots of losses for the airline compan

Airline Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN) previously, released a public announcement stating the flight delays at TIA has reached to a maximum level so, the flights to various domestic destinations can be delayed or even cancelled. The international flights are given more priority than the domestic flights so, the delays for internal sectors is certain, says AOAN. Besides, airline operators are having harsh time receiving Flight Sequence from the unimproved communication systems at the airport.

AOAN has requested all the passengers to understand the prevailing troublesome situation at the country’s sole international airport and support accordingly. The passengers have to consider the flight delays for some more time until the essential airport enhancement project and alternative airport project completes.

The flight delays at TIA can be mitigated to some extent if the necessary airport capacity enhancement project can be accomplished as soon as possible. Besides, the country is desperately in need of Second International Airport.

Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) is trying to expedite the airport enhancement projects but the delays in budget approval has been halting major projects at TIA. CAAN lately finalized budget for the fiscal year 2074/75 on 8th Mangsir this year which may lessen the flight delays if the ongoing and new airport and aviation projects around the country accomplishes on time.

Tribhuvan International Airport is desperately in need of support Second International Airport (SIA), extra parking bay, parallel taxiway, all area coverage RADAR and many more but it is not possible overnight. It could take a minimum of 4 years for the completion of SIA so, at the present time a good decision making must be done in order to alleviate flight delays. It is bitter truth that TIA must provide service to each and every airline operators with its narrow infrastructures.

Air Traffic Controllers, Engineers, Technicians and flight crews at TIA are undergoing full stress work schedule as the flight delay is being progressive day by day. More than 400 flight movements are recorded per day at TIA so, flight delays are inevitable at the present time. Now the respective authorities must keep a keen concern on how to utilize airport time effectively, how to introduce and enhance the use of new advanced technologies and equipment, how to coordinate with other organizations and how to boost the manpower. If timely decision and implementation can be done then the flight delays can be minimized to some extent otherwise the situation will aggravate in near future creating more mayhem at TIA.

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