RUKUM, Feb 25: Although the task of renovation and blacktopping of Rukum Salle Airport was completed months ago, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) is yet to resume regular flights.
The airport remains closed since December 2013 when Y P Fhodum CM Construction Company had begun black topping the runaway. [break]
According to station manager Amardeep Rai, hopes of early regular flights from the airport was further dashed after the recent air crash at Arghakhanchi district.
“Honestly, we were about to start operation last week, but the Arghakhanchi crash has affected all our plans,” said Rai.
Rai further said that the airport needs additional flights from both state own and private airlines to expand air service in the remote district.
With a minimum number of daily flights, Salle Airport was connected with other airports by NAC only before it was shut down for renovation.
Concerned over the damaged runaway of the airport, private airlines companies had abandoned flying their planes to Salle Airport around a decade ago. Since then, the airport was regular ground for NAC planes only.
Before the beginning of the renovation, NAC planes were flying on the Rukum-Kathmandu route once a week and the Rukum-Nepalgunj route thrice a week on regular basis.
“In order to develop the air service here, we need to convince private airlines to connect with our route. I don´t see any fear factors now as the runaway has been upgraded for the planes to land and take off,” said Rai.
When the whole country was tangled in the Maoist insurgency, the airport had received more damages. “The air tower was completely destroyed and the runaway was badly damaged. Now we have renovated everything now,” said Rai.
With the blacktopping already complete at the airport, the other airport in the district Chaurjahari Airport is going through similar facelift.
A total budget of Rs 100.91 million was allocated for the blacktopping of both the airports. Rs 42.5 million have been spent at Salle Airport.
“The work of renovation is in progress at Chaurjhariya Airport and I assure that the work will complete soon,” said Rai.
Meanwhile, an employee of the construction company Uddhav Shrestha shared that the runaway is not that strong enough to support big aircraft.
“The runaway should be at least 1200 meter long for wide body planes to take off,” said Shrestha.