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Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu is now open 21 hours a day

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Kathmandu, Nepal  /  Tue, May 22, 2018  /  12:35 pm
Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu is now open 21 hours a day

Nepal’s sole international getaway has reached a new milestone by extending its operating hours. (Shutterstock/Dutourdumonde Photography)

Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) general manager Raj Kumar Chettri was quoted by The Kathmandu Post on Monday as saying that the airport in the capital of Nepal was ready to remain open 21 hours a day.

Previously, the country’s sole international gateway operated for 18 hours 30 minutes in three shifts daily. This schedule had caused severe traffic congestion.

“The new schedule will be formally inaugurated on Monday,” said Chettri, “each shift will be lengthened by one hour.”

The customs office, police and other security agencies were said to have agreed to the new shift duration. Meanwhile, the airport plans to hire more air traffic controllers (ATCs) in the coming days, as an addition to the 72 ATCs already working in three shifts.

Following the increased workload, the board of directors of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal is expected to approve an incentive plan for the ATCs and other staff as compensation.

Another improvement for the airport is a separate exit system for passengers effective on Monday, allowing passengers to leave the airport through the new route or from the newly constructed vehicle parking area near the Ring Road.

A few airlines used to have to hold for hours in the skies at night before landing during daytime. But the airport’s longer operating hours offer a benefit, which is enabling the airlines to obtain the night slots so there will be no more holding up in the sky.

Qatar Airways, for instance, has decided to put one of its flights in the 1 a.m. slot.

In terms of traffic, congestion can only be expected to decrease after summer as travel demands rise faster than the improvement of infrastructure. Parking bays are still limited and the summer schedule for all airlines was approved before the change in operating hours.

According to airport officials, however, the additional two hours and 30 minutes would help the peak tourist season, which usually starts in September.

Read also: 1,900 CCTVs installed at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport

TIA reportedly handles more than 500 flights daily, including domestic flights that account for 75 percent of all flights during the holiday season in March – May and September – November. The Lukla flights that connect Kathmandu to Everest are the reason why TIA is very congested during the peak season.

It only takes a single rescheduling of a Lukla flight (usually because of weather) to create a cascade effect on all flights. (mut)

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