Kathmandu runway repair


Kathmandu airport will be closed for 10 hours a day just at the start of the peak trekking and mountaineering season, and the travel trade is gearing up for major disruptions. Hardest hit will be passengers to Lukla, which during this time of year gets as many as 40 flights a day from Kathmandu. These flights have to operate by 10AM because of wind in Lukla, so all flights will terminate at Ramechhap airport, 150km east of Kathmandu and a 4-5 hour drive away from the capital (pictured, above).

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Many who have booked treks have been warned by their agencies that they have to travel to Ramechhap the previous evening. Some trekking agencies are even taking their clients by jeep to Phaplu (12 hour drive from Kathmandu) and then ferried by helicopter to Lukla which is 15 min away.

Kathmandu airport’s single runway was built in 1985 and has never been repaired. After the earthquake, it started developing cracks which were temporarily repaired, but airport authorities say rehabilitation is long overdue.

Domestic airlines are also expected to lose their main cash cow: the early morning Mt Everest sightseeing flights. Some of them operators are conducting mountains flights from Pokhara from next week to include flypasts of both the Annapurnas and Everest.

International airlines have also reschduled their arrivals after 8AM and departures before 10PM. Some have cancelled one of their flights, and others are operating routes with bigger aircraft. Passengers have been asked to check with the airline about altered timings and new seating. Kathmandu airport will resume normal flights from July 1.

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