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CAAN focuses on Tribhuvan Int’l Airport as Nijgadh SIA proves non-starter

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has stressed the need to develop Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu as the proposed second international airport (SIA) in Nijgadh is nowhere on the government’s radar.

“We have been waiting for the SIA for a long time,” said CAAN’s Director General Tri Ratna Manandhar speaking at the 12th general assembly of the Nepal Air Traffic Controllers’ Association on Wednesday. “It’s time we became serious about developing TIA.”

On April 10, 2011, the Detailed Feasibility Report prepared by Korea’s Landmark Worldwide Company on the SIA was submitted to the Tourism Ministry. Since then, nothing has happened with regard to the new airport.

The study report has been stuck at the high-level BOOT committee of the National Planning Commission (NPC) for the last 14 months. An NPC source said that nothing had been done on the SIA and that it was unlikely anything would be done.

According to Manandhar, TIA’s total revenue in the last fiscal year jumped 13 percent to Rs 3.1 billion. Helped by the growth in revenue and clearance of all cumulative losses, CAAN earned a net profit of Rs 290 million in the last fiscal year. “To make TIA fully functional, the domestic airport should be relocated to Dhulikhel,” he said.

 

Meanwhile, CAAN has been implementing a number of safety measures at Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla. Located in Khumbu on the trail to Everest, it is rated among the most extreme and dangerous airports in the world. According to CAAN, it is installing an approach lighting system at Lukla airport that allows the pilot to visually identify the runway environment and align the aircraft with the runway upon arriving at a prescribed point. The proposed lighting system will be installed at the approach end of an airport runway and consists of a series of light bars.

Similarly, an online weather observation system has been planned in the Everest region. “The system will enable pilots to get information about the weather in the Everest region online,” Manandhar said.

The project is estimated to cost around Rs 8 million. It is being undertaken as a joint effort of CAAN and Mahabir Pun of the Nepal Wireless Networking Project. Pun is known for his extensive work in applying wireless technologies to develop remote areas in the Himalaya under the project.

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