Kathmandu, November 5
As the fuel crisis worsens with the ongoing obstruction at the Nepal-India border points, international airlines operating in Nepal today said they were facing a hard time continuing their operation in the country due to lack of aviation turbine fuel.
Nepal Oil Corporation had stopped supplying ATF from the last week of September.
Apart from daily revenue, international carriers also informed that they were gradually losing goodwill as ATF shortage has its direct impact on services offered to passengers.
“The present crisis has caused loss of at least 50 per cent revenue for each international airliner operating here on a daily basis, but neither the concerned government ministry nor the management at Tribhuvan International Airport is ready to address our concerns,” representatives of Airlines Operators’ Committee Nepal univocally said.
According to them, airlines have been forced to offload passengers at the last moment, while extended flying hours has also caused inconvenience to passengers. “The concerned authorities in Nepal should immediately act to provide ATF to international carriers here for their smooth operation,” they demanded, saying they would otherwise be compelled to cut more flights to the country.
At present, all international airlines have been refilling from the base station and bringing ATF from alternative destinations to offset the shortage of fuel in Kathmandu. “As a result of such practice, the carriers have been compelled to reduce the number of passengers as well as cargo load while such a move also forces airlines to bear an additional cost for landing, navigational and ground handling activities, among others,” the airliners said.
Besides affecting aircraft rotation, ATF shortage has also resulted in carrying additional crew on board and also making it miss connections for the onward journey of transit passengers.
According to AOC Nepal, the umbrella body of air carriers has time and again raised the issues with TIA management as well as senior officials at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, but to no avail.
“AOC has no update of ATF availability in Kathmandu till date,” AOC officials said, highlighting the uncertainty regarding how much more internatioanal carriers will have to bleed.
Among 28 international carriers operating to and from TIA, China Southern has already halted operation while others have been forced to drastically decrease flights to Nepal.
Most of the operating airlines have decided to make technical landing in Lhasha, Dhaka and New Delhi among other places to refuel their aircraft. Though Nepal Airlines has been airlifting ATF from India, NOC provides chartered fuel only to domestic air carriers.
International carriers, which have been bearing the brunt of TIA’s mismanagement for long, also recently suffered huge loss during the movement of VVIPs in the SAARC summit as well as in the time of the April earthquake and the crash-landing of Turkish Airlines at TIA.
A version of this article appears in print on November 06, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.