KATHMANDU, July 25: Low visibility due to bad weather caused cancellations of many domestic flights to and from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on Wednesday.
Heavy rains and dense fog made affected flights operations on the day, according to TIA Civil Aviation Office (CAO). Pratap Babu Tiwari, the spokesperson for TIA CAO, told Republica that all airports outside the Kathmandu Valley except Nepalgunj, Bhairahawa and Dangadhi, remained shut in the morning. "Though Biratnagar, Nepalgunj, Dangadhi, Janakpur, Lukla and Surkhet airports resumed operation in the afternoon, other airports remained shut," Adhikari added.
International flights, however, operated as usual.
According to Tiwari, Buddha Airlines and Yeti Airlines canceled nine and seven flights, respectively, on Wednesday. "Similarly, Tara Air and Shree Airlines canceled three flights each, Simrik Air and Summit Air canceled a flight each," Tiwari said. "State-owned Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) canceled five domestic flights."
Airline operators said though flights were affected in the morning, things improved as the day progressed."Most of the airports were open by 11 am. Flights operation became normal after that," Rupesh Joshi, director of marketing and sales department of Buddha Air, told Republica. "Bharatpur, Biratnagar and Simara Airports opened afternoon.”
Joshi added that flights operated as usual in the evening.
Passengers were at the receiving end of the delay and cancellations of flights. Of the total of 22 flights to Pokhara, only three were operated on the day. "We had our aircraft standby all the time. That is why we could operate flights to Pokhara once the weather improved," Bhim Raj Rai, senior manager of Yeti Airlines, said.
Pokhara airport remained closed in the morning due to dense fog. As the airport opened only after 4 pm, most of the airlines had already canceled their flights. Buddha Air canceled all nine flights from Pokhara Airport on Wednesday. The airline has seven scheduled flights to Kathmandu and one each to Bharatpur and Bhairahawa from Pokhara. Yeti Airlines, however, operated two of the eight scheduled flights from Pokhara.
Flights in Nepal are prone to delays and cancellation during the monsoon and winter due to low visibility.