Mayor initiates steps to upgrade Jumla airport, expand runway

Published On: June 10, 2018 02:00 PM NPT By: DB Buda

JUMLA, June 10: Citing difficulties during take-off and landing, talks hoping to expand Jumla airport’s runway on both sides has started.

Mayor Kanti Sejuwal of Chandannath municipality said that they had initiated talks to upgrade the airport and elongate the runway with representatives, ministries and departments.

“I lost my husband in air crash but I don’t want any Jumla residents to lose their loved ones,” Sejuwal said adding that they’d expand the runway to suit midsized airplanes within five years. The mayor had lost her husband, Manav Sejuwal during an air crash of Nepal Airlines five years ago. The Nepal Airlines plane was en route to Jumla from Kathmandu when it a mountain at Argakhachi.

At present, the airport’s runway is 670 meters and can only accommodate twin-otters and Dornier aircrafts. An expanded runway would be able to allow 32 seat aircraft to land. Shorter runways are likely to lead more air accidents as aircrafts need to take short turns. She said that she’d immediately sit down with each pilots to draft a minute and submit it to concerned stakeholders within two working days. 

“We’ve verbally agreed with the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. Now, we’ll take it forward through a written proposal,” she said. For a 32 seat aircraft, a minimum of 1250 meter runway is required. Jumla airport is the only airport in Karnali province where airplanes can land from both sides of the runway.

The district’s airport chief, Kailash Sharma requested Sejuwal to proceed with the proposal. He highlighted that some of the reasons why accidents were more likely to happen included short runways, unaware pilots, lack of aircraft maintenance and improper cargo storage and unfavorable weather.

Demand for fuel center

As flights Jumla were more affected during winter due to cold waves in Terai region, stakeholders have also demanded Jumla airport to have its own fuel center.  Fuel storage would mean that flights to and fro from Jumla wouldn’t be halted for weeks, according to Sharma.

Flights to Humla, Mugu, Dolpa and other Karnali regions need to fly early morning to avoid heavy wind during the day. Sharma said that a fuel station would help inbound flights to further districts by becoming a pit stop.

From Jumla, airplanes can reach Humla, Dolpa and Gamgadi in 21, 19 and 12 minutes respectively. Earlier, former state minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation,Bal Bahadur Mahat had made attempts to construct a fuel center at the airport.  

Yesterday, a Tara airplane averted a major disaster while landing at Jumla airport. The airplane, call sign 9N AEV carrying 16 passengers on-board skidded 50 meters off the runway after it’s the front tyre was deflated. All the 19 people on board, including three flight members, were safe


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