POKHARA, Jan 8: After the start of commercial flights at the Pokhara Regional International Airport (PRIA) in Pokhara, Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) is going to build an aviation fuel depot at the airport at a cost of around Rs 680 million. The corporation has leased a piece of land at PRIA from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) to build the aviation fuel depot.
Deputy Director of NOC, Bharat Regmi, said that a 3.6 million liter aviation fuel storage tank is going to be built at the airport. "We have started the construction of three tanks of 1.2 million liters at PRIA," said Regmi, "A company has also been selected for the construction of the depot."
Although the operation of flights has started at the international airport, there is no aviation fuel storage depot at PRIA at present. A refueler has been brought from Pokhara's domestic airport to fill the aircraft with fuel. Religare Construction and Parallels won the contract in collaboration with Indian company BHN for the project worth Rs 672.9 million. Regmi said that the work will proceed with the goal of completing the construction in one year.
"Since the airport is in operation, there is pressure to complete the construction in time," said Regmi, "We will arrange a refueling standby until the storage area is built." The corporation said that there is a need to build aviation fuel depots at other airports including the one in Pokhara. The NOC has planned to build aviation fuel depots at six airports in the country. The corporation took the step after there was difficulty to provide fuel to the aircraft due to the lack of fuel depots at the airports.
It was found by a study that there is a need to build aviation fuel depots in Janakpur, Simra, Bharatpur, Dang, Manthali, Jhapa and other places. It has been approved in the budget and program to build a depot at the airport. According to the corporation, the depot will be constructed by leasing the land from CAAN.
The corporation currently has fuel depots at Tribhuvan International Airport, Pokhara, Biratnagar, Bhadrapur, Bhairahawa, Surkhet, Nepalgunj and Dhangadhi. The corporation said that capacity will be increased at old airports as well. Although the corporation sells aviation fuel only at nine of the 29 airports operational across the country, 20 airports do not have aviation fuel depots. At airports without depots, airplanes have to carry the fuel from Tribhuvan International Airport while flying to these airports.
CAAN officials say that there is a problem due to the lack of air fuel system even at the busy airports. This leads to commercial losses for the airlines. Kathmandu has 7,710, Biratnagar 280, Bhairahawa 56, Pokhara 64, Nepalgunj 280, Surkhet 60, Dhangadhi 45 kiloliters of air fuel storage capacity. According to the corporation, there is a storage capacity of 8,495 kiloliters of aviation fuel across the country. More than 200 planes of a dozen domestic and two dozen international airlines get refueled at the Tribhuvan International Airport.