KATHMANDU, April 28: Nepal’s sole international airport, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), will be operational for 21 hours a day starting from May 21, 2018.
TIA Civil Aviation Office has stated that needful preparation has already begun to extend the airport’s operational hour. “TIA has been in operation for 18 hours a day since long. Now, we have decided to extend operation hours by three hours to 21 hours a day,” Rajkumar Chhetri, general manager of TIA, told Republica.
As many as 28 international airline companies from 14 different countries are operating more than 90 flights a day at TIA at present. Similarly, domestic airlines are operating more than 350 flights a day from and to TIA.
Currently, the airport is in operation from 6 am till 12:30 pm.
From May 21 onwards, the airport will open from 6 am till 3 am. “The airport will be closed for only three hours - 3 am to 6 am,” Chhetri said, “We are putting our full efforts to implement this decision effectively.”
Chhetri, however, said that proper coordination of different agencies is needed to extend operation hours of the airport. “Human resource is a major problem. We have already started preparation to address this problem,” Chhetri said.
Immigration, security agencies and customs are directly related to operation of the international airport.
“Though other agencies have also talked about human resources issue, they are addressing the problem on their own,” he said, adding that all the stakeholders are working on a war footing to extend the operation hours of the TIA.
The stakeholders started needful preparation right after Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari included a plan to operate the airport for at least 21 hours a day in his 100-day work plan.
“We are ready to pay more incentive to staffers ranging from like Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) to electricians,” Chhetri said adding, “We are in regular discussion with other agencies as well.”
Chhetri also added that the TIA Civil Aviation Office has already invited tender to bring new technology that can repair runway within 30 minutes.
According to officials, the airport can be smoothly operated for 21 hours a day although first two or three months could be difficult. Officials say they will begin study to make the airport operational round the clock once the 21-hour operation schedule beings to work smoothly.
The TIA management already informed all international airlines about its plan to bring the airport into operation for 21 hours a day. “We have even informed the pre-paid taxi service. They have responded positively to our call and expressed commitment to provide service effectively,” he added. “Two international airlines have already expressed their willingness to shift their day flights after midnight.”
TIA officials say that two slots -- 11 am to 5 pm and 8 pm to 11 pm -- are the rush hours at TIA. This is the period when most of the aircraft take off and land.
Although the airport come into operation in 1949, it got the name - Tribhuvan Airport -- in 1955 following inauguration by the then King Mahendra. It was renamed as ‘Tribhuvan International Airport’ into 1964.