Kathmandu. August 12
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai has directed Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) to encourage airline companies to fill the post-midnight flight slots.
Aiming to reduce the perennial air traffic congestion, the minister has asked TIA to subsidise the navigational charge for airline companies that operate their flights after midnight.
Minister Bhattarai had inspected TIA on Sunday and also held a meeting with representatives from TIA, Nepal Tourism Board, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal and Visit Nepal Year (VNY) 2020 campaign committee.
The TIA collects navigational charge from airline companies and Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) collects ground handling charges.
The minister has also asked for suggestions from NAC regarding subsidising ground handling charges for airline companies that operate flights after midnight. Minister Bhattarai has directed the concerned authorities to run the scheme throughout next year, when the country will be observing the VNY campaign.
In order to manage air traffic congestion, TIA had started operating for 21 hours per day from May 21 last year. Citing that air traffic congestion was a major drawback for the country’s sole international airport, late tourism minister Rabindra Adhikari had urged the TIA management to shift flights to the extended hours.
Currently, Qatar Airways and Fly Dubai are operating their post-midnight flights from and to TIA.
Besides, the minister has also announced that the transformed TIA ‘boutique’ airport and VNY 2020 campaign would be inaugurated on the same day. With an investment of around Rs 230 million, the government is upgrading TIA as a boutique airport. TIA has now been decorated with traditional wooden doors and windows, and statues of Gautam Buddha, the famed one-horned rhinos and red panda. Paintings that reflect cultural and historical aspects of the country have also been installed at the airport.
Likewise, the minister has also directed TIA to establish dedicated counters to offer fast services for professional visitors. Dedicated counters will serve passengers travelling to Nepal for international conferences, seminars and meetings.
Currently, altogether 30 international carriers and 20 domestic airlines (including helicopter companies) are operating regular flights to and from TIA. The airport sees approximately 400 take-offs and landings a day, including both domestic and international.
A version of this article appears in print on August 13, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.