KATHMANDU: Nepal government has decided to close the runway at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) for 10 hours daily from February to carry out rehabilitation works on its ageing runway. Renovation of the 3,050-metre runway will be completed within five months, according to airport authorities.

Sanjiv Gautam, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), said in the Ministerial-level Development Problem Solutions Committee of the Tourism Ministry that the country’s sole international airport would be closed from 10 pm to 8 am the next day to renovate the five-decade old runway.

Airport authorities moved to improve the runway due to extreme pressure following frequent cracks in the pavement that have raised safety concerns.

“The TIA runway is the most sensitive zone in Nepal. Hence, rehabilitation works need to be completed within this fiscal year,” said Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari.

In March 2017, the project prequalified four firms following the completion of their technical evaluation. The prequalified companies are China National Aero Technology International Engineering Corporation, China Harbor Engineering, Beijing Changdao Municipal Engineering Group and a Nepali-Chinese joint venture consisting of China Railway No 5 Engineering Group and Swachchhanda Nirman Sewa. However, the scheme ran aground due to various problems.

The project is expected to pick prequalified bidders within 45 days after issuing a notice inviting prequalified bidders to submit financial proposals within the next few days, the Caan said. The winning contractor will be given four months to make preparations. The company will be required to have all its logistics and construction materials in place before it is allowed on the runway.

For the last six years, aircraft weighing more than 196 tonnes have been barred from TIA to prevent further damage to the runway. The old runway has been affecting smooth operation of aircraft due to repeated occurrences of cracks in the pavement.