Gautam Buddha Airport to have 16 parking bays

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 3, 2018-

The Finance Ministry has asked the Tourism Ministry to build another 10 parking bays at the under-construction Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa as passenger and aircraft movements are expected to rise sharply in the near future. Six parking bays have been constructed as per the design of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded project.

The move to develop additional parking bays was prompted by the experience at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) which has only nine parking bays and is plagued by severe congestion both on the ground and in the air. The traffic congestion is getting worse by the day with airlines aggressively expanding their fleets due to growing air travel demand in the country.  

The national pride project in Bhairahawa has been envisaged to serve the fast-rising business and industrial hub of Bhairahawa and facilitate international pilgrimage to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha.

The airport will also become Nepal’s second international airport and serve as an alternate aerial gateway in case TIA has to be shut down due to bad weather or natural disaster.

The Finance Ministry has asked the Tourism Ministry to add 10 parking bays without affecting the project deadline. The much-delayed scheme is scheduled to be completed by June 2019 and begin commercial operation by July.

“We have received a letter from the Finance Ministry asking us to construct more parking bays. It has also asked us to submit a proposal regarding the extra funds that will be required to build them,” said Om Sharma, chief of the Gautam Buddha International Airport project.

“We have to prepare a design of the parking bays to ascertain the cost,” he said, adding that there was no problem in terms of space as there was plenty of room.

Airport progress

The Gautam Buddha International Airport project told the ADB’s Tripartite Portfolio Review Meeting on Thursday that the project had achieved 48 percent physical progress as of mid-July, up from 29 percent in 2017.

The highest progress of 5.5 percent was recorded in May followed by 3.8 percent in June. The project has planned to achieve 3 percent physical progress monthly during the monsoon period ending September, and 5 percent monthly progress after that. “At this pace, we expect the project to be completed by June 2019,” said Sharma.

“I know the project has recorded progress in 2018, but we have to be vigilant,” said Diwesh Sharan, deputy director general at the South Asia Department of the ADB. “Close monitoring of progress and decisive actions are needed for civil aviation to improve and accelerate implementation and to ensure targets and results can be achieved for these flagship projects.”

According to Sharma, the final base laying works on the 3,000-metre long and 45-metre wide runway has been completed, and the project is all set to blacktop it by September.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (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, the project suffered multiple hurdles that pushed back the completion deadline by one and a half years.

Of the total project cost, the ADB has provided $58.50 million ($42.75 in loans and $15.75 million in grants), the

Opec Fund for International Development (OFID) has provided a $15 million loan and Caan will bear the rest of the cost as counterpart funding.

Published: 03-08-2018 08:38

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