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Bids for airport navigation services likely this month

  • gautam buddha international airport project
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jun 3, 2018-

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) is set to launch the second package of the Gautam Buddha International Airport Project in Bhairahawa by June, after better-than-expected progress of the ongoing civil works.

The second package involves installation of Communications, Navigation and Surveillance (ANS) and Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems. “We have forwarded the documents to the headquarters [Caan] for inviting bids for the second package. The concerned departments are reviewing it,” said Om Sharma, chief of the airport project.

“We expect the tender will be called by June,” he said, adding that the bidding process would take four months. “Infrastructure required to install navigational aids will be completed by September.”

As of June 2, the airport project has achieved 42 percent of physical progress, according to Sharma. The airport in Bhairahawa—the gateway to Lumbini—is being expanded to an international airport. Caan is planning to install instrument landing system (ILS), which allows approaches and landings in poor weather conditions. There are different standards of ILS, including CAT I, CAT II and CAT III.

“We have been assessing the cost of installing CAT II. The decision has not been made yet,” said Caan Director General Sanjiv Gautam. “However, we will have to opt for CAT I for now if CAT II is too expensive, with an option of upgradation in the near future.” Aircraft can land at the airport at the visibility of 550 metres under the CAT I system, while CAT II enables aircraft to land at the minimum visibility of 350 metres.

Caan is planning to start the commercial operations of the airport by July 2019. “The base of 3,000-metre-long and 45-metre-wide runway will be prepared by July-end. And  it will be blacktopped by September.”

Caan awarded the Rs6.22-billion Gautam Buddha Airport upgradation contract to China’s Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group in November 2013. The airport was initially slated to be ready in December 2017.

However, shortages of fuel and building materials due to the months-long Tarai banda in 2015 delayed the upgradation works by six months, and its operation deadline was revised to June 2018.

Subsequently, a dispute over payments between the Chinese contractor and the Nepali sub-contractor—Northwest Infra Nepal—stalled works at the construction site for more than six months. As a result, the project deadline was extended many times. The last deadline given by the project financer Asian Development Bank (ADB) to the Chinese contractor is June 2019.

The national pride project has been envisaged to serve the fast-rising business and industrial hub of Bhairahawa and facilitate international pilgrims to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. After the first phase of upgradation, the airport’s handling capacity will be increased to 600,000 passengers annually. Lumbini is 22km from Gautam Buddha International Airport at Bhairahawa.

Published: 03-06-2018 09:01

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