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Gautam Buddha Int’l Airport construction to be completed in three years

Bhairahawa : Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala laid foundation stone of the Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa today.

Addressing a function in Bhairahawa , Premier Koirala urged the construction company responsible for the airport construction to pay special attention to maintaining the quality and standards of works.

Prime Minister Koirala said investors were excited in investing in all areas of such ambitious development projects like the construction of the Gautam Buddha International Airport.

Noting that the Lumbini area is an important pilgrimage site for the Buddhists, he said there is ample opportunity for the promotion of religious tourism with the construction of an international airport at such an important place.

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Deepak Chandra Amatya opined that  tourism development of the entire Lumbini region would pick up after the construction of the international airport.

Former minister and Constituent Assembly member Bishnu Poudel , Nepali Congress Balkrishna Khan ,Lawmaker Dipak Bohara , Sharbendra Nath Shukla and Chief Secretary Lilamani Poudyal stressed on timely construction of the airport.

“The Airport will be constructed under the loan assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Chinese North-West Civil Aviation Airport Construction Company has responsibilities of constructing the airport at Rs 6.22 billion. The construction works are to be concluded by the next three years, ” Managing Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Ratishchandra Lal Suman said.The runway will have to be extended to 3,000 meters from the current 1,500 to meet the international standard.

According to CAAN , the upgraded airport would provide an alternative landing facility for the airplanes coming on international flights to Kathmandu. Big aircraft like Airbus A 340 and Boeing 777 can also land after the Gautam Buddha Airport is upgraded.

A master plan has been prepared to enable for handling 6 million passengers with the upgrading of the Gautam Buddha International Airport, according to CAAN.Gautam Buddha Airport is a domestic hub airport in the Western Development Region.

Earlier, Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided an additional $30 million loan to the Government of Nepal to scale up the upgrading of the Gautam Buddha Airport (GBA) in Bhairahawa into an international airport with higher air safety standards.

“Airport upgrading is critical to further developing nearby Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha, into an attractive cultural and tourism destination. The number of foreign visitors to Lumbini is rapidly rising in the recent years, and airport improvement will help in further opening Lumbini and linking it with international tourist circuits in South Asia as well as to the rest of the world,” said Kenichi Yokoyama, ADB’s Country Director for Nepal.

Upon completion, the international airport is expected to serve 760,000 passengers by 2030, including 280,000 visitors to Lumbini, which is 20 kilometers west of the GBA according to ADB.

In addition to helping increase the number of visitors to Lumbini from the traditional markets of India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, the upgrade is expected to increase the number of visitors from the People’s Republic of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, among others.

ADB approved the South Asia Tourism Infrastructure Development Project, of which the GBA upgrade is a part, in November 2009 to develop and improve tourism-related infrastructure in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal.

The additional financing will support the restructuring of the project including the increased scope of the GBA from the originally designed regional international airport to a full-fledged international airport that can accommodate wide-body airplanes.

The scaling up of the original upgrade design will add 400 meters to make the runway length to 3,000 meters, overlay the existing 1,500 meter runway for use as a parallel taxiway, construct a new 15,169 square meter terminal building, improve drainage, and install more advanced navigational aids, equipment, and airport lighting for safety , the ADB said in a statement in May, 2014.

After completion of the upgrading, the GBA will also serve as an alternate international air transport point for Nepal in the event of poor weather conditions or in case natural calamity shuts down Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), the only international airport in the country at the moment.

News Source: Travel Biz News

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