Friday, August 16, 2013

Airport closes again, fourth time in a month, second time in a week

The only international airport in the country has closed its services temporarily today afternoon, again, after a pothole was detected – for the fourth time within a month – on a section of its runway.
The Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) – the gateway for the land locked Nepal to the outer world – was closed for half an hour from 2 pm. The airport closure for the patch up work of the pothole in the intersection C and D of the runway has forced Royal Bhutan flight to divert back to Paro, whereas China Eastern Airlines, Jet Airways and Air India were held in the sky and the scheduled Thai Airways flight from Kathmandu – along with around half dozen domestic flights – was delayed.
It is the second time this week the TIA saw damages on the runway. On Sunday also it had to stop flights operation for about 45 minutes after cracks were reported on the runway.
The repeated problem of crack at the runaway – which smells of a huge corruption – has not only tarnished the image of Nepal but also is going to hit the visitor arrivals during the nearing tourist season, and airlock the country closing it to the outer world.
The TIA maintenance is a temporary solution as the tarmac needs a full-fledged renovation as the more than four-decade long runaway needs a complete renovation as the number of aircraft landing at the airport has tripled –  with some aircraft weighing more than 300 tonnes including  passenger, cargo and fuel – and changing weather patters in the last five years. “The problem will reappear anytime as the current maintenance is the temporary solution only,” according to the TIA officials.
Though, the TIA has deployed a rapid action team to maintain immediately as and when the potholes reappear, the repeated disturbance of scheduled flights is not only going to hit the tourism sector but also economy hard.

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