Saturday, July 21, 2018

Gautam Buddha Int'l Airport to start test flight from January

The much awaited completion of Gautam Buddha Airport in Bhairahawa is going to start test flight in January.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the much-delayed upgradation of the Gautam Buddha Airport has seen 50 per cent of physical progress and it is going to open by January 2019. "The 50 per cent physical progress that the project has achieved is out of 70 per cent of the overall civil works," the CAAN confirmed.
The remaining package involves installation of Communications, Navigation and Surveillance (ANS) and Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems, CAAN director general Sanjiv Gautam informed, adding that the airport has achieved better-than-expected result last month.
After the first phase of upgradation, the airport’s handling capacity will be increased to 760,000 passengers annually, and will be Nepal’s second international airport, which will also serve as an alternate international air transport to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), the only international airport in the country.
Due to the progress in June, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – the financer of the project that has remained out of the project since December last year – is expected to rejoin the project soon.
The ADB had pulled back from the project after the projects' initial deadline ended in December 2017, due to its slow progress. 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.
The CAAN awarded the Rs 6.22-billion Gautam Buddha International Airport upgradation contract to China’s Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group in November 2013. It was initially slated to be ready in December 2017. But shortages of fuel and building materials due to the blockade 2015 delayed the upgradation works by six months, and its operation deadline was revised to June 2018.
The final base laying works of 3,000-metre-long and 45-metre-wide runway will be completed by this month-end, Gautam said, adding that it will be blacktopped by September. 


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