Nepal’s most-awaited new international airport is making a fast-paced movement to become a reality soon.
A recent update informed that the Gautama Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa is nearing its completion to become operational by early 2019.
The much-delayed airport got 50 percent of its physical infrastructure development completed by June 2018 and is awaiting the technical infrastructure part.
The finished 50 percent work covered 70 percent of the civil works and the remaining 30 percent of task involves setting up of Air Traffic Management (ATM) and Communications, Navigation & Surveillance (CNS) systems.
Encouraged at June’s progress report, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to step into the project again.
ADB was supporting the project as a key financier, but moved out in December 2017 citing slow execution from the Nepal Government’s side in meeting the set deadlines.
“The project has achieved better-than-expected result in June. ADB has been considering continuing support for the project and we are in regular discussion with them,” says Sanjiv Gautam, Director General, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).
According to Gautam, the project is currently awaiting final base laying works including that of the runway that are expected to be completed by end of July 2018.
ADB has so far provided USD 58.50 million in loans & grants followed by OPEC Fund for International Development’s (OFID) USD 15 million loan and CAAN will bear the remaining expenditure as part of counterpart funding.
The project was initially set for a December 2018 deadline after months of delay and has been finally been set to a revised operational deadline of June 2018.
The airport project is aimed at promoting Bhairahawa’s potential as a growing industry hub of Nepal and also to drive more international tourists to Lumbini, Birthplace of Lord Buddha, which is 22 km away from the Gautam Buddha International Airport at Bhairahawa.