International airlines will get refuelling facility at Tribhuvan International Airport from February 16, Tuesday, after four-and-a-half months.
TIA authorities have said the notice that bars foreign carriers from refuelling, issued on September 29 last year and extended from time to time, will not be extended again after it expires on February 15.
After fuel supply resumed from Raxaul Depot of Indian Oil Corporation — the main source of aviation turbine fuel — last Monday, Nepal Oil Corporation informed TIA about resumption of refilling facility from this week.
“Once the notice period expires on February 15, foreign carriers will be able to refill at TIA,” said Bhola Guragain, officiating general manager of TIA.
TIA, on the basis of NOC’s information, had issued notice for international carriers to manage fuel on their own from September 29. NOC had not allowed international carriers to refuel due to disruption in supply from India due to blockade at border crossings organised by the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front. The UDMF officially withdrew the blockade last Monday.
Despite the fuel crisis in Kathmandu, all the airlines had continued to fly to TIA. Even China Southern, which had suspended its flight to the Kathmandu sector for a few months in the wake of fuel crisis, had resumed operation.
International airlines had been asked to carry sufficient fuel either from their base stations or manage technical landing at an airport nearest to the TIA in the light of the crisis. Hence, long distance carriers have operated flights to Kathmandu by arranging ‘technical landing’ to refuel at the nearest airports such as Lucknow, Dhaka or New Delhi.
Altogether 30 to 35 foreign carriers operate flights to Kathmandu every day and consume around 250 to 300 kilolitres of fuel each day. “Fuel consumption of foreign carriers is around around 400 kilolitres each day during peak tourist season,” said Pradip Kumar Yadav, NOC depot chief at TIA, adding that the number of carriers flying into the country haddropped in recent days, but primarily because it was off-season.
After refuelling facility resumes, international airlines will be charged similar rate as domestic airlines. Each litre of aviation turbine fuel costs Rs 164.88 at TIA.
It is reported that NOC is preparing to cut the price of fuel. Foreign carriers will be charged the same as domestic airlines until NOC takes a decision regarding fuel price, according to Yadav.
Currently, NOC has 3,000kl aviation turbine fuel in stock in Kathmandu, whereas the total storage capacity stands at 7,801kl. But NOC is confident it will be able to provide refilling facility with consistent supply from Raxaul Depot. Raxaul Depot dispatches 400kl of aviation turbine fuel each day apart from other products.