April 28 - Air Charter Service (ACS) group commercial director Justin Lancaster has expressed concern that aid agencies are facing unprecedented logistical challenges in trying to help victims of the Nepalese earthquake.
"Speaking with major aid agencies, there are grave concerns about the amount of relief goods they will be able to get in," said Lancaster.
"One of the biggest problems is that the only international airport in Nepal is Kathmandu, which is a very small airport, with the cargo ramp only capable of handling two or three widebody aircraft at any times. The warehouse is also insufficient and is apparently already full, with cargo being offloaded onto the parking areas.
"Ideally the quickest way into Nepal is from the air as the country is just so isolated, by the authorities have marked cargo flights as low priority at present and are taking up to four days to grant landing permits for Nepal and overflight permissions for India. Top priority is being allocated to scheduled passenger flights, emergency rescue flights and military operations," he went on.
"The situation is so bad that the possibility of trucking aid from other airports in the vicinity, such as Calcutta, is being considered but that is also posing its own challenges, including Customs issues and the condition of the roads…The weather has not been kind either, with several flights already being diverted into India due to storms.
"We have booked several charter flights carrying search and rescue teams and relief goods, and are just awaiting slots and permits. In order to help the aid reach the site, the relevant authorities will need to relax their red tape as much as possible, so that the necessary aid is able to get in."