Nepal | April 21, 2019

Tourism ministry seeks clarification from TIA

ARPANA ALE MAGAR

Kathmandu, April 10

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) has sought clarification from the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) for allowing FlyDubai to take-off after 10:00 pm, going against the notice for airmen (NOTAM).

TIA had allowed FlyDubai, a government-owned company of Dubai, to take-off after 10:00pm on Tuesday, while TIA has been closing all flight operations for 10 hours from 10:00 pm to 8:00 am since April 1 for the runway rehabilitation work.

A FlyDubai aircraft scheduled to depart from TIA for Dubai at 8:40 pm departed from TIA at 10:17 pm on Tuesday. After issuing

NOTAM a few months back, TIA has begun rehabilitation and extension of the runway. However, going against the rule, TIA permitted the aircraft to take-off.

Meanwhile, it is to be remembered that a week back on April 3, TIA had refused to allow a Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) flight bound for Dubai from taking off citing the NOTAM.

The NAC aircraft was all set for take-off but the airport management stopped the aircraft. According to NAC, the captain of the concerned flight had sought four extra minutes to take-off, however the airport refused to extend the departure time as it would be against the NOTAM. But on Tuesday night, the same TIA management allowed 17 extra minutes to FlyDubai to take-off.

“It is against the law to break NOTAM rule. That is why we have written a letter to TIA requesting it to send a clarification on why it breached the NOTAM rule and allowed FlyDubai to take-off on Tuesday night,” said Ghanashyam Upadhyaya, spokesperson for the ministry. If the ministry does not receive a justifiable reason, then it will take strict action against TIA management. “A rule is equal for everyone and if anyone is found guilty, the person will be punished,” he added.

Meanwhile, Raj Kumar Chhetri, general manager of TIA, said the airport had allowed the FlyDubai aircraft to take-off looking at the convenience of passengers onboard. “The pilot had already completed the pushback of the aircraft and was all set to take-off,” he said, adding, “Moreover all the passengers would have to suffer at the last moment and that is why the aircraft was allowed to take-off.”

Meanwhile, when being quizzed about a similar situation with NAC, he mentioned that he was in Hong Kong at the time to attend the Asia-Pacific/World Annual General Assembly conference of the Airport Council International.

“No one was there to take a decision on it.”

Regarding the NAC incident, CAAN had blamed NAC’s management and the captain for the cancellation of the flight. According to CAAN, all decisions related to the operation of the airport are taken by the aerodrome duty officer, not the air traffic control (ATC). But officials of NAC based at TIA had not coordinated with the aerodrome duty officer before cancelling the flight, as per the report obtained by The Himalayan Times.

Currently, the work of runway expansion is ongoing at TIA. As per Dipendra Shrestha, project manager for the runway rehabilitation project of TIA, installation of centreline lighting system is in progress at the moment. Soon the installation of the lights works related to the runway will begin. “Before blacktopping the runway, we have to instal centreline lights in the runway area,” he said, adding, “If there is no obstruction, blacktopping of the runway will be completed on time.”


A version of this article appears in print on April 11, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.


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