Nepal | May 29, 2020

16 airports out of operation

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, June 15

While the government is planning to construct new domestic airports, 16 already existing airports have remained out of operation for several years, turning them into grass fields.

According to ‘Civil Aviation Annual Report’ published by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), out of the 49 airports in the country including the country’s sole international airport, Baitadi Airport, Langtang Airport, Bajhang Airport, Manang (Humde) Airport, Darchula Airport, Meghauli Airport, Dhorpatan Airport, Mahendranagar Airport, Dolpa Masinechaur Airport, Palungtar Airport, Doti Airport, Rolpa Airport, Jiri Airport, Syangboche Airport, Kangeldanda Airport and Tikapur Airport have been shut for more than a decade.

As stated by CAAN, most of these domestic airports have suspended their services due to shortage of passengers. As per CAAN, while some of the domestic airports were closed right after test flights were conducted, a number of them suspended operations after launching their services for a few months.

Amidst this, four airports — Dang Airport, Sanfebagar Airport, Balewa Airport and Rajbiraj Airport — resumed services in 2018 after receiving assurance of seat occupancy from the respective local governments. However, two of them — Balewa and Rajbiraj airports — have again shut down due to lack of passengers.

And yet, CAAN is constructing six new domestic airports at Arghakhanchi, Gulmi, Ilam, Kalikot, Kamal Bazar (Achham) and Khiji Chandeswori (Okhaldhunga).

Similarly, among four hub airports — Bhairahawa, Biratnagar, Nepalgunj and Pokhara — the latter two are being upgraded to regional international airports, while the construction of Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) is in final phase.

Likewise, budget for the next fiscal year has allocated funds to conduct a feasibility study to construct a domestic airport in Surkhet. Similarly, budget has also been allocated to upgrade Biratnagar, Janakpur, Simara, Dang and Dhangadhi airports.

Meanwhile, the CAAN report has claimed that the country’s aviation sector showed marked improvement in 2018 compared to previous years.

As per the report, there are currently 28 paved airports, while the runways of six are being paved and nine are yet unpaved airports in operation at present. Similarly, a total of seven airports — Tribhuvan International Airport, Biratnagar, Chandragadi, Dhangadhi, GBIA, Nepalgunj and Simara — have night operation facilities.

A version of this article appears in print on June 16, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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