In order to provide uninterrupted services during the SAARC Summit to be held on November 26 and 27, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has decided to operate Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) round the clock from November 25 to 28.
According to Birendra Prasad Shrestha, general manager of TIA, the airport will operate 24 hours to manage flights. Currently, the airport remains closed from 12:30 A.M to 6:30 A.M. “As we need to issue Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) during VIP´s arrivals, we will be operating 24 hours so that flights can arrive even if they are delayed,” said Shrestha.
NOTAM is a notice filed with an aviation authority regarding any hazard or disturbance en route or at a specific location. During NOTAM, aircraft cannot take off or land.
According to Deo Chandra Lal Karna, director of Airport Operations Department, international flights will be mostly affected on the 25th and 28th of November when the summit guests will be arriving and returning. “We will be issuing NOTAM from 9:15 A.M. to 5 P.M. on November 25, from 8 A.M. to 10 A.M. and 2 P.M. to 4 P.M. on November 27 and from 8:40 A.M. to 1:30 P.M. on November 28,” said Karna, adding that they would be working in such a way that there would be minimum loss to the airlines.
“As NOTAM will be issued, we have to reschedule all our flights, which mean airlines will have to bear huge losses, ” said Bharat Kumar Shrestha, president of Airline Operators Committee Nepal (AOC-N), adding, “We have to provide food to the passengers and the connecting flights have to be worked out.
” He added that airlines will also face the problem of parking as four out of the nine parking bays at TIA have been reserved for the parking of VIP aircraft.
“We have received verbal notice only from the authorities but once we receive a written notice, we will issue it to all the aircraft so that they can reschedule their flights,” said Shrestha. On November 25 alone, 18 flights will be affected, he said.
Karna said they are yet to receive the times for the arrival of guests from Pakistan and Afghanistan. “Once we receive the times from those two countries, we will circulate the notice to the airlines,” he said.
In the case of domestic flights, the airlines have been requested to conduct their mountain flights and flights to Lukla from 6 A.M. to 9 A.M.
“As NOTAM will affect domestic flights as well, we also plan to operate around the clock the airports at Biratnagar, Nepalgunj, Bhairahawa and Dhangadi, where it is possible to carry out night operations,” said Karna. These airports would be operated round the clock as per the requirements of domestic airlines.