Pokhara int’l airport project set to take off

  • PM lays foundation stone
  • Country to have 4 such facilities by 2022

Apr 14, 2016-

A year after the government started upgrading Gautam Buddha Airport in Bhairahawa as an international airport, it has now started another international airport in Pokhara.

Development of yet another full-fledged international airport in Nijgadh, Bara has also been under consideration. If all goes well, Nepal is set to have four international airports by 2022.  

On Wednesday, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli laid the foundation stone of an international airport in Pokhara. The $215.96 million (Rs 22 billion) project is expected to be completed by July 2020. The project which lies at Chinnedanda, 3 km east of Pokhara’s domestic airport, has remained on the drawing board for decades.

“The project will be completed on time,” said PM Oli. “The international airport will increase the importance of the tourist hub further.”

In 1975, the government had acquired over 3,106 ropanis of land for the project. However, the project was put on the back burner. “Pokhara locals’ 40-year-old dream of having an international airport is about to come true,” said Oli.

On March 21 during PM Oli’s visit to China, the government signed a $215.96 million loan deal with China EXIM Bank to build the new facility. The credit request

followed the Cabinet’s go-ahead in October 2014 to construct the project with Chinese funding.

The bank has agreed to provide 25 percent of the loan without interest. The government will have to pay 2 percent interest per annum on the rest of the loan. The loan repayment period is 20 years, including a seven-year grace period when no interest will be charged.

As per the feasibility report, the airport, which will be spread over 200 hectares, will have a 2,500x45-metres runway. It will accommodate medium category jets like Boeing 757 and Airbus 320.

Lawmaker Rabindra Adhikari said direct air connectivity to Pokhara would increase tourist inflow significantly. An estimated 300,000 foreigners visit Pokhara annually.

Gautam Buddha International Airport, which will serve as a gateway to the birthplace of Buddha, is being built at a cost of Rs23 billion. It is scheduled to be completed by 2017. Apart from the development of two international airports, the Ministry of Tourism has tabled another proposal at the Cabinet to construct a full-fledged international airport in Nijgadh, Bara, which will cost Rs121 billion. The government is also working to review the airspace agreement with India for more entry routes for airlines coming to Nepal.

The government has requested India to open three more air entry points at Janakpur, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj to allow Nepali carriers to link major Indian cities. The cross-border direct routes are expected to facilitate flights between airports in Pokhara and Bhairahawa, and this will save time and money for air travellers and also improve air connectivity between India and Nepal.

Published: 14-04-2016 08:44

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