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Gautam Buddha Airport likely to be ready for trial flights by 2020

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KATHMANDU: The Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) in Bhairahawa is likely to come into operation by the first quarter of 2020. 83.25% of work has been completed and it has high probability of being ready for the first trial flights. The airport has achieved 94% work progress in civil works. The project Director of GBIA, Mr. Prabesh Adhikari said that looking at the pace of the work, all civil works will be completed by December 2019, which means the airport could be ready for trial flights by the first quarter of 2020. He also said that only 6% of civil works and installation of equipment works are remaining and assured that it will be completed soon. The contractor for electromechanical works is bringing equipment from the US, Europe, and China.

Situated 20 kilometers from Lumbini, the birthplace of Siddarth Gautam, the airport is expected to bring more tourists in the region, paving the way to boost Buddhist tourism in Nepal. As the speed of construction of GBIA increases, the face of tourism entrepreneurs of the Lumbini area has brightened up. The project will open enormous economic opportunities to the tourism and other sectors of the region. GBIA is the second international airport in Nepal and everyone is excited because this project is the most important project for Nepal.

The construction work of the project has been separated into two packages – International Competitive Bidding (ICB)-I and ICB-II. “Works like the construction of taxiway, runway, and control tower, among others, fall under ICB-I, whereas works dealing with communication equipment fall under ICB-II and the work in both packages are going on in a parallel manner,”-said Mr. Adhikari.

Honorable Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Mr. Yogesh Bhattarai said the project would be completed within the stipulated deadline. However, its operation might be pushed back a few months for the preparation of flights. The airport project was originally scheduled to be completed in December 2017. The new completion deadline is December 2019. The government is implementing the project with the financial support of Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The project is estimated to cost Rs 6.23 billion. Of the total cost, the ADB is providing $58.50 million ($42.75 million in loans and $15.75 million in grants), while OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) is chipping in with $15 million as loan financing.

The remaining cost will be borne by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) – the civil aviation regulator as well as airport operator of the country.

Source: The Himalayan Times