Air traffic movement to be affected for 4 daysAir traffic movement is expected to be significantly affected for four days from Wednesday due to the arrival of VVIPs for the fourth Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit slated to be held from August 30-31, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) said Tuesday.
Air traffic movement is expected to be significantly affected for four days from Wednesday due to the arrival of VVIPs for the fourth Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) summit slated to be held from August 30-31, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) said Tuesday.
Airport officials said that they were ready to keep the airport open round the clock on Thursday and Friday.
“As traffic movement is expected to be affected, we are well prepared to keep the airport open 24 hours for two consecutive days if airlines ask us to do so,” said Raj Kumar Chettri, general manager of TIA. He added that the airport had issued a notice to carriers regarding the VVIP movement.
On Tuesday, flight movement was restricted for 25 minutes due to the arrival of Myanmar President Win Myint.
On Wednesday, Kathmandu’s airspace will be closed for civil aircraft for 30 minutes from 7:45am to 8:15am to welcome the chief advisor of Bhutan. At noon, flight movement will be restricted from 2:30pm to 3pm to welcome the Sri Lankan president, said Chettri.
Flights will be most severely affected on Thursday due to the arrival of the heads of government of India (8:30am), Bangladesh (9:30am) and Thailand (10:00am), according to the airport. On Thursday, flight movement is expected to be affected for more than two hours.
“We are yet to confirm the date and time of the departure of the VVIPs,” said Chettri, adding that flight movement would also be affected on Saturday.
Meanwhile, TIA said that the airport’s domestic terminal would open an hour earlier from September 1 to facilitate smooth movement of domestic flights during the peak tourist season.
According to Chettri, the domestic terminal will open at 5am while the air traffic control tower will open at 5:40am. Currently, the domestic terminal opens at 6am, and flights start taking off from 6:30am. “We have aimed to process the first flights from 6am. Starting an hour early will ease traffic congestion to some extent.”
The September-November period is the peak tourist season accounting for 35 percent of the total tourist arrivals to Nepal. The autumn tourist season coincides with the festival rush when hordes of Nepalis take to the air to return to their home towns to be with their families.
According to TIA, as many as 400 domestic flights and 100 international flights take place daily during this period. Of the total flights, 75 percent are domestic.
The main reason behind the congestion at TIA during the tourist season is Lukla flights.
If a flight to Lukla, the gateway to Everest, is disrupted on any particular day due to weather, its rescheduling will create a cascade effect on all flights. The objective of opening the airport an hour earlier is to process as many flights to Lukla as possible, officials said.