KATHMANDU, Sept 18: Nine helicopters en route to Kathmandu on Tuesday made ‘safe landing’, as per pilot’s decision, at different places due to bad weather.
The helicopters belonging to different companies had gone to Lukla and Surke of Solukhumbu to transport trekkers stranded at Lukla.
“The weather had been unfavorable due to which the helicopter service providers were not able to fly the trekkers from Lukla to Kathmandu,” said Yog Raj Kandel, spokesperson of Airlines Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN).
According to the association, one helicopter each of Altitude Air, Manang Air and Kailash Helicopter Services, and two helicopters of Simrik Air landed at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on the same day while one helicopter each of Simrik Air, Shree Airlines and Summit Helicopters made a night stop at Manthali, Ramechhap.
“The helicopters will move to Kathmandu on Wednesday,” he added. A helicopter from Air Dynasty Heli Service that had landed at Surke had returned to Lukla for the night stop.
He said that the helicopters took turns to make their trip to Kathmandu and had to make the stop at different places as the weather deteriorated when they were en route to Kathmandu.
“They were not emergency landings,” Kandel told Republica, adding: “With their ability to hover over a single spot, they can make landings anywhere for safety purpose.”
Likewise, Raj Kumar Chhetri, general manager at TIA said that unlike airplanes they can make safe landing when needed. As the weather at Lukla improved, the helicopters made their move from the spot but the weather en route to Kathmandu’s international airport deteriorated. “The helicopters had to land due to the safety concern,” said Kandel.
As the weather condition is expected to remain the same for two more days, helicopter operators said that the pickup of tourists will continue only after the weather gets better.
“There can be an exception if the weather improves,” Kandel further added. About 350 trekkers are stranded at Lukla from Saturday because of unfavorable weather.
According to AOAN, there are 33 helicopters operating for commercial purpose in Nepal. But at the moment only 25 are flyable as remaining helicopters are either going under maintenance or waiting maintenance.