KATHMANDU, Nepal- Thai Airways, the prominent airline of Thailand and Korean Air, the national flag carrier of South Korean Republic have said that they will reduce the cargo weight while on their flights to Kathmandu. The airlines have come up with the idea of minimizing their cargo load in response to the Civil Aviation Authority Nepal’s (CAAN’s) request to limit takeoff and landing weight of wide-body aircraft.
The flight and airport regulating body of the country last Friday had asked all international operators of wide-body aircraft to limit their takeoff and landing weight to 196 tonnes until September 30 as a measure to prevent formation of more cracks on the runway of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).
Dragon Air, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Air Asia, Thai Airways and Korean Air are currently flying wide-body aircraft to Nepal. Among these, aircraft operated by Dragon Air, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Air Asia have a dry operating weight of around 126 tonnes and their takeoff weight falls within the limit of 196 tonnes once passengers, baggage, fuel and cargo are taken into account.
But Thai Airways and Korean Air are said to have a takeoff weight of up to 260 tonnes, which CAAN thinks should be reduced.
A TIA official said that representatives of both airline companies have expressed willingness to minimize the payload and cooperate with the TIA management.
It has been learnt that the airlines have said to consider lowering payload but they have not agreed on refuelling the aircraft here.
While Thai Airways has daily flights to Kathmandu Korean Air flies to Kathmandu twice a week on Mondays and Fridays.
Meanwhile, Turkish Airline is scheduled to operate flights to Kathmandu from September 2 using Airbus 330–300, a wide-body aircraft. Since the airline will operate flights in the mornings, officials are sure that will not exert pressure on the runway.
As the country’s sole international airport suffered repeated cracks on its runway, raising safety concerns, the Tourism Ministry, TIA and Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) on last Monday had asked all international carriers to find alternatives to their wide-body aircraft flying into Kathmandu.
The ministry and the TIA have asked foreign airlines not to land heavily-loaded wide-body aircraft after potholes were found on the runway last week. The air regulating body has asked the airline operators to choose narrow-body airlines instead wide-body Boeing and Airbus for the time being. The airlines were also asked to change their flight schedule as most of the wide-body airlines have flights at mid-day time. Airlines above 250 seats capacity were also requested to reduce flying weight up to 196 tonnes and reduce cargo weight. Likewise, the ministry through CAAN has called on the airlines to opt options like as to refill fuel in Nepal airport and use catering here among others.
More than two dozen foreign airlines operate regular flights from Asia and the Middle East to Nepal. Six airlines fly wide-body planes into the capital, Kathmandu.
CAAN has assigned a Spanish consultancy to prepare a study report on TIA Pavement Evaluation. The consultancy is working with a deadline of September 30 to present the report. CAAN is expected to introduce further measures to prevent formation of cracks on the TIA runway based on findings of the report.