Kathmandu (Nepal): Nepal's only international airport will remain closed at least another day as workers attempt to remove a Turkish Airlines jet that skidded after landing, blocking the single runway, aviation officials said Friday.
Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal chief Ratish Chandra Lal Suman said special equipment flown in from India was being used to try to lift the Airbus 330 from a grassy area and move it, but it was difficult because the plane's front landing gear was broken.
Workers covered the grass with gravel and were trying to use a flat-bed truck and heavy equipment to move the aircraft, he said.
It was unclear when the airport, normally used by nearly 14,000 people a day, would reopen. “We are saying the airport is closed until 10 a.m. Saturday, but we are not saying it will open by then,” Suman said.
The nearest international airports are in neighboring India, and traveling there by road takes days. The runway was slippery from two days of rain and there was dense fog when the Turkish Airlines plane skidded Wednesday morning. No serious injuries were reported.
Many passengers were frustrated that their airlines had not told them when they would be able to fly or helped them find lodging.
“Nobody notified us,” said Anna Garcia from Mexico City, who drove six hours on a mountain road to the airport, where she discovered her flight had been canceled.
Uttam Bhai Patel from Mumbai, India, said his airline advised him to go by land to India.“We have paid for our tickets and it is their responsibility to get us out of here,” he said.
Suman said extra planes would be brought in once the airport reopens, and it would operate around the clock instead of its usual schedule of closing at night.
March is the beginning of the tourism season, when thousands of foreigners come for trekking and to climb the Himalayan peaks.