Government plans to carryout full repair of TIA runway

KATHMANDU: The government has planned to carry out complete repairs of the runway at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), the country's sole airport operating international flights.

The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has initiated necessary process in this regard. During the repair works, the airport will remain closed for 10 hours on a daily basis.

According to Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Rabindra Adhikari, the upgrading of the TIA runway within in a year remains on top in the list of priorities of the government. Likewise, bringing the under-construction Gautam Buddha Airport, Bhairahawa into full operation within a year is also equally important, said Minister Adhikari.

The government is hopeful that the airports would contribute to the increase of tourist arrivals in the country once they come into full-swing.

As stated by Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN)'s director general Sanjeeb Gautam, repair works will begin from coming mid-February and the airport will remain closed during repair hours (from 10:00 pm to 8:00 am). It is expected to take four months to pave the runway with fresh asphalt. In the second phase, the restoration of a taxiway will be carried out.

The CAAN has already announced a tender for the Rs 100-million project thrice, but has not received a letter of intent from any company and is planning to call for a tender for the fourth time.

The runway started developing cracks since 2014 and the 2015 April earthquake made the situation worse. The runway areas, especially from the 02 point up until 1,600 meters ahead, have been largely damaged and in a pathetic condition.

Gautam said, "With the management of adequate quantity of required equipment, we would be ready to face all sorts of possible challenges during the repair works. Problems may arise as we have been carrying out such works for the first time."

According to TIA, repair and maintenance works would be started from southern part of the airport as it has become very weak.

As per international standard, the runway of an international airport should be refurbished with the use of new asphalts in every 10 years. However, the TIA has never witnessed such renovation since its construction.

Around 400 flights including 100 international flights are operated by TIA every day, as of date. The Airport has been brought into operation for 21 hours daily from May 21.

The government must ensure the carrying out of repair and maintenance task of the runway as early as possible as there is no option but to put flights on hold in order to adjust with the recently increased air traffic flow.

As per the CAAN report, 33 airports, out of 56, across the nation are presently in operation.