Diplomatic missions urge Government of Nepal to clear aid held-up at airport

5 May 2015 7:08 PM AEST: Dozens of diplomatic missions and international organisations have expressed regret and dissatisfaction over relief materials being held up at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).

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They complained to the Government of Nepal about planes with humanitarian aid not being allowed to land at the only airport in the Himalayan nation, reported Annapurna Post on Monday, May 4.  

Nepal Earthquake
Acting Foreign Secretary of Nepal, Shanker Das Bairagi.

According to the publication, the ambassadors urged Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey to let planes carrying the much-needed relief materials land a the TIA without any hurdles. They observed that the humanitarian assistance sent by their respective countries have not received customs clearance because of which the aid materials continue to be held-up at the TIA.

“The ambassadors were concerned about the the bigger planes not being able to land,” acting foreign secretary Shanker Das Bairagi was quoted as saying.

Minister Pandey assured the delegation that there will be no more issues at the TIA as the government has already decided not to charge customs duty on aid supplies. However, he asked the ambassadors not to bring planes beyond the airport’s capacity.

“Apart from planes carrying international humanitarian aid, there are 26 daily commercial flights for Nepal only. The only runway has become fragile. It is not possible to allow flights beyond the capacity. I urge you to understand the situation,” he said on the occasion.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal currently does not allow planes of over 196 tonne capacity to land at the TIA because it believes the only functioning runway of the airport is weakening.

According to Birendra Shrestha, TIA’s general manger, at least three Canadian planes over 196 tonne capacity have been barred from landing at the airport.

The minister stated that his government was bound to take the decision after the large planes chartered by the armies of various nations (that arrived in the country for rescue missions in the wake of the 7.9 magnitude earthquake) damaged the only functioning tarmac of the airport.

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