All international flights have been cancelled at the Tribhuvan International Airport till 4 p.m. tomorrow due to security reasons as the runway has remained obstructed following the runway excursion of Turkish Airlines’ Airbus A330 this morning, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).
But uncertainty looms large whether the international flights could resume in the country’s only international airport by tomorrow evening as the CAAN and Tribhuvan International Airport authorities are witnessing an unexpected challenge to tow the Flight TK-726 from the area between runway and taxiway to a safe location.
The TIA does not have a towbar –specially designed equipment– at its disposal to remove the heavy category Airbus A330.
CAAN, however, said that attempts are being made to pull the stuck Airbus using what it said removal equipment as it was not possible to change its tyres in order to taxi the aircraft down the runway.
Coordination is being done to bring in equipment from abroad and mobilise trained manpower–if need be– to tow the aircraft and resume the international flights, the General Manager at TIA, Birendra Prasad Shrestha, said in a statement this evening.
The TIA’s runway is 10,000 feet long and 150 feet wide, while a total of nine medium and wide body category aircraft can stand in its apron.
The inbound flight had skidded off the runway and its right landing gear got stuck in the grassland between runway and taxiway at around 7:45 a.m.
Earlier during its first attempt to land, the aircraft, with 248 people on board, had overshot the runway and made a holding in the Kathmandu sky for about half an hour, according to a TIA source.
After receiving signals from the Air Traffic Control officials, the captain attempted to land for the second time–only to witness the runway excursion probably because s/he “executed a missed approach” for navigation as a dense fog abruptly appeared in front of the aircraft, the source surmised.
All the passengers and crew members were evacuated after the landing. All of them are safe.
A total of 38 international flights–18 arrivals and 20 departures– were cancelled today.
Domestic flights, which were suspended for some hours after the incident, resumed after 12 p.m.