Asia/Kathmandu

‘Nepal Airlines’ decide to resume Japan service faces new issue-Kathmandu Post

The national flag carrier has planned to re-launch its Kathmandu-Osaka airline flight from August-end, but Tribhuvan International Airport has initiated that the airport will turn off for 7 hours daily for four months from September 1 to allow work crews to restore the taxiway.

Nepal Airlines had originally regarded operating flights to Kansai International Airport from July 4, but it postponed the re-launch till August 29 because of ‘very poor’ bookings during the low season. The flight are going to depart from Kathmandu at 2:30 am and arrive in Osaka at 11:55 am local time. The return flight, which takes 7 hours, will leave Osaka at 1:55 pm local time and reach Kathmandu at 6:00 pm.

But the country’s sole international airport is going to be closed for seven hours daily from 11:30 pm to 6:30 am next day from September 1 to December 31.

“We expect to discuss with officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal on Sunday to discuss each possible option to start the flight,” said Nepal Airlines executive chairman Madan Kharel.

“We have asked the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal to provide a 20-25 minute window every day by halting construction work. We can comfortably fly on this window period,” he said, adding that the ground handling agency at Kansai International Airport cannot change its allocated time. “It’s difficult to change the allocated slot at Japan’s airport.”

Rajan Pokhrel, director general at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, declared that Nepal Airlines had formally asked for it to provide a flight operation window during the construction period. “We are meeting on Sunday to discuss what can be done.”

Airport authorities declared that the ongoing renovation work on the runway of Tribhuvan International Airport will be finished on Sunday, and it will remain open for21 hours daily from Monday. The airport had to be closed for 10 hours daily to allow construction crews to work on the runway. The 3, 050-meter-long runway has now been refurbished and covered with a new layer of asphalt.

The renovation of the runway began in the midst of the country’s spring tourist season. And the renovation of the taxiway has also been planned for autumn, which is Nepal’s main tourist season.

The September-November period is Nepal’s busiest travel season when Nepalis hurry home en masse to enjoy the Dashain and Tihar festivals with their families. The festival exodus coincides with Nepal’s peak tourist season which accounts for nearly 30 percent of annual tourist arrivals in the nation.

Raj Kumar Chettri, general manager of the airport, said that the second phase of construction, which includes restoring the taxiway, continues to be initiated as per the plan. “We cannot continue the construction work during the monsoon.

So, we stopped it for two months,” he said, adding that the construction must be completed before the winter.

Based on airport officials, nearly every type of paving material will eventually fail if exposed to water, so work is normally halted during the rainy season. Likewise, work is affected by cold weather too. For this reason, construction work is generally conducted from March-May and September-November, officials stated.

The runway and taxiway of Tribhuvan International Airport are being repaired in an Rs3 .78-billion task. China’s state-owned enterprise China National Aero-Technology International Engineering Corporation has received the rehabilitation agreement.

On May 3, Nepal Airlines had publicized the resumption of its Osaka service from July 4 but had to postpone it because of poor bookings. The June-August or monsoon period is the offseason for traveling in Nepal.

The carrier expects the resumption of its Japan service to help develop its financial health. Nepal Airlines has found itself in the midst of money problems because it has not been able to fly its newly acquired Airbus A330 jets on profitable long routes like Japan and Europe.

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