Nepal airport closed after plane skids off runway

The Yeti Airlines ATR 72-500, arriving in Kathmandu from southern Nepal with 66 passengers, skidded about 15m into the grass.
The Yeti Airlines ATR 72-500, arriving in Kathmandu from southern Nepal with 66 passengers, skidded about 15m into the grass.PHOTO: LOVE FOR AVIATION IN NEPAL/FACEBOOK

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Nepal's only international airport was closed on Friday (July 12) after a plane skidded off the recently repaired runway, injuring two people, officials said.

The country has a poor flight safety record - Nepali airlines are banned from European Union airspace - and its airports are notoriously difficult to land in.

The Yeti Airlines ATR 72-500, arriving in Kathmandu from southern Nepal with 66 passengers, skidded about 15m into the grass.

"Our teams are working to remove the plane and reopen the airport," the airport's general manager Raj Kumar Chettri told AFP.

Mr Chettri said that removing the Franco-Italian-made turboprop plane was taking a long time because heavy rain has made the area muddy.

The authorities took 11 hours to remove a domestic aircraft that suffered a similar runway excursion in September last year, months after a Malaysian jet with 139 people on board had aborted its take-off and skidded off the runway.

In March 2018, a US-Bangla Airways plane crashed near the airport, killing 51 people.

The Himalayan nation has some of the world's most remote and tricky runways, flanked by snow-capped peaks with approaches that pose a challenge even for accomplished pilots.