Chinese firm to rehabilitate TIA runway, taxiway

Kathmandu, November 5

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) today signed a contract with a state-owned enterprise of China called China National Aero Technology International Engineering Corporation to rehabilitate the runway and taxiway at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).

Of the four international firms that had submitted their applications for the runway and taxiway rehabilitation project at TIA, the Chinese company was the lowest bidder and obtained the aforementioned project that is worth Rs 3.78 billion, informed Baburam Poudel, chief of the TIA Runway and Taxiway Rehabilitation Project.

Under the project agreement, the Chinese contractor will have to complete the runway and taxiway maintenance works within 18 months starting today. In the first phase, the contractor has been given the mandate to complete rehabilitating the 3,050-metre runway by June next year. “Following the completion of the runway maintenance, the contractor will have to begin the rehabilitation process of taxiway at TIA,” Poudel said.

The civil aviation regulatory body said that the actual works regarding the maintenance of the TIA runway will begin from April first week next year. Prior to that, the contractor will be engaged in works regarding importing necessary equipment and raw materials at the project site.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation recently decided to close the country's only international airport for 10 hours every day targeting the runway maintenance works from April first week. As per Poudel, a decision has been made to shut the airport from 10pm to 8am every day after the construction works of the runway begin.

The government moved to upgrade the sole runway at TIA as it started developing frequent cracks and potholes, affecting many incoming and outbound flights along with other security issues. Cracks along the runway in fact have become a routine affair since the last few years. Moreover, the increasing number of flights at TIA, especially wide-body aircraft, has been compounding the problem..Following the inability of TIA runway to withstand extensive pressure, government has been discouraging foreign airline companies from flying wide-body aircraft to Nepal to prevent further damage to the runway.

Though the government had designed the runway rehabilitation project in 2014, the project implementation got delayed owing to various reasons, including frequent change in government and leadership at different government bodies. However, CAAN officials believe that the project will gain momentum now and will be completed on time.