Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Schedule flights to Lukla resumes Thursday

KATHMANDU, Nov 10: Scheduled flights between Kathmandu and Lukla are resuming from Thursday after 10 days of disruption owing to bad weather.

Domestic carriers are resuming their scheduled flights after a marathon rescue operation concluded on Wednesday.

According to airlines operators, the airstrip handles up to 50 scheduled flights a day during this time of year. Tara Air, Agni Air, Sita Air and Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) operate scheduled flights to Lukla, which is considered one of the busiest airports in the country.

“We started operating scheduled flights from Nov 6 itself, but scheduled flights will resume full-fledged from tomorrow,” Manjita Shrestha of Tara Air said.

More than 1,000 flights on Kathmandu-Lukla-Kathmandu sector were cancelled after bad weather prevented operation of flights at the Lukla airstrip for nearly a week. Airline operators said they lost up to $40,000 a day.

Shreekant Baral of Airlines Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN) said all private carriers are resuming normal operation from Thursday as most of the stranded tourists have already been airlifted.

Shrestha of Tara Air said they operate up to 25 flights on the sector during peak season. “In average, we operate 20 flights a day during peak season,” she added.

Meanwhile, private choppers and airlines airlifted 871 tourists to Kathmandu from Lukla on Wednesday. Around 750 tourists were airlifted to the capital from Lukla on Tuesday. Private operators had rescued around 1,000 tourists on Monday and around 500 tourists on Sunday.

Purna Chudal, manager of Tribhuwan International Airport, said the Lukla airstrip handled a total of 61 flights, including 10 by choppers, on Wednesday. He said Tara Air operated 21 lights, while Agni Air, Sita Air and NAC operated 20, six and four flights respectively.

Rescue flights started at 6.15 am and continued till 5 in the evening, according to Chudal. Private airlines on the day ferried 30 tons of cargo to Lukla.

More than 3,000 tourists were stranded in Lukla - a popular gateway to Mt Everest - since Oct 31, after bad weather prevented operation of flights.

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