Airlines, passengers affected by Kathmandu airport closure

Aviation: Almost 250 Drukair and Bhutan Air (Tashi Air) passengers were affected as a result of the closure of Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan international airport on Wednesday.

The airport was closed after a Turkish Airlines aircraft, carrying 224 passengers, skidded off the runway on landing and ended up on the adjacent grass surface with a collapsed nose gear. There were no fatalities or major injuries.

The incident occurred at around 7:45am.

As a result Drukair and Tashi Air both cancelled flights to Kathmandu on Wednesday.

With Nepalese authorities unable to move the Turkish aircraft by yesterday morning, the two airlines again had to cancel their flights.

As a result, 110 Drukair passengers have been affected by the closure, with 58 of them stranded in Kathmandu. While for Tashi Air, 139 passengers were affected, 46 of them also stranded in Kathmandu.

In a press conference yesterday, Nepalese authorities announced that the airport would remain closed until 10am today.

Drukair on its Twitter account announced that it has scheduled a flight to Kathmandu at 12pm today.

A Tashi Air official said that a flight would probably be conducted if possible but nothing was certain. It was also pointed out that the Tourism Council will not be charging fees for visa extensions for foreigners affected by the incident.

Sources in Nepal said that even if the airport opened by 10am, there would be significant traffic congestion given the number of aircraft and passengers looking to get in or out. So far, media report say that thousands of airline passengers are stranded in Kathmandu.

At the request of the Nepalese government, an Indian Air Force C-130J Super Hercules aircraft carrying an aircraft removal kit arrived in Kathmandu to aid in removing the Turkish airliner, yesterday morning.

As of last evening, work was still underway to remove the aircraft.

By Gyalsten K Dorji

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