Kathmandu, Mar 6: Nepal's only international airport will remain closed at least till 10 am tomorrow even as the Indian rescue mission tried to remove the Turkish jet that skidded off the surface on Wednesday morning, blocking the runway and stranding thousands of passengers.
The Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) has extended the shutdown of international flight operations till tomorrow, Ratish Chandra Lal Suman, Director General at Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) said.
"Flight operations won't resume until 10 am on Saturday as the efforts to move the plane from the current position is in progress and like to take more time," he added.
Indian Air Force yesterday sent 11 technical experts and a C-130J Super Hercules transport plane with an aircraft removal kit following requests by the Nepalese government to remove the Turkish Airliner Airbus A-330, for resumption of international flights in and out of the country's capital.
The Indian technical team has lifted the front portion of Turkish Airliner with the help of lifting airbag, TIA Chief Birendra Prasad Shrestha said, adding, all front wheels of the plane will be changed today.
The grassy land in between the runways broken up by the aircraft has been smoothened with gravel and sand, Shrestha was quoted as saying by Ekantipur.
The Indian team of technicians is expected to complete the clearance work by tomorrow morning, he added. Nepal's only international airport had remained shut since Wednesday morning when the Turkish Airliner - with 224 passengers and 11 crew members onboard - skidded off the runway and part of the wing of the plane fell on the runway, blocking movement of other aircraft.
All the passengers were unhurt, but there was some damage to the front of the Airbus 330. Thousands of passengers and tourists remained stranded at the TIA as flights were cancelled for the third consecutive day, affecting the upcoming tourist season, one of the main source of forex for the Himalayan nation.Nepal's high altitude and tricky runways that often suffer from foggy conditions and poor visibility pose a challenge to even the most accomplished of pilots and had been blamed for a string of aircraft crashes in the past.
The European Union had banned all Nepal-based airlines in December 2013 from flying to the 28-nation bloc, citing poor safety standards followed by the airlines in Nepal.