Last Updated: Saturday, March 7, 2015 – 7:20pm
Most Recent: Its Saturday now at 7:20pm and local news is indicating the runway is clear. Flights should resume shortly according to television coverage in Kathmandu.
The only international airport in Kathmandu has been closed since Wednesday morning when a Turkish airliner partially missed the runway. Fortunately, all the passengers on the Turkish flight were evacuated safely but a portion of the wing remains on the runway forcing its closure. Flights won’t be resumed until this aircraft has been removed from the runway.
Currently a specialized aircraft removal team from India is making some progress and expects to clear the runway by noon today with flights resuming several hours after. For our guests travelling into the country and those looking to leave one of the most frustrating aspects of this ordeal is the lack of information and what appears to be a poorly organized response by the authorities.
The first plan on Wednesday was to remove the Turkish airliner with two large bulldozers that were in close proximity to the airport. However, Turkish airlines objected to this procedure and the plan was called off after in the late afternoon. A secondary plan relying on specialists from the Indian army was hatched by evening and a C-130J a special aircraft designed to carry cargo and land on a limited runway left for Kathmandu at 11am on Thursday with a specialized aircraft removal kit and a technical crew to supervise the removal process. It appears the Indian team experienced difficulty with their equipment and were unable to remove the plane on Thursday.
As of Friday morning the Indian team begun to lift the plane with the use a bladder system. Turkish Airlines Manager Purna Prasad Chudal commented the only remaining task is to pull the plane by its wheels off the runway.
This photo taken on Friday morning shows some progress has been made lifting the front of the airliner. It was expected once it was lifted that removal of the plane would be fast, but the wheels are in bad condition and need to be replaced before removal can proceed.