BHAIRAHAWA, April 4: The capacity of Gautam Buddha International Airport, a national pride project that is currently under construction, is being expanded even before the completion of construction.
The capacity of the terminal buildings and parking is to be increased, keeping in mind the expected growth in the number of tourists in upcoming years.
The project office had initiated the process of increasing airport capacity a while ago. During his visit to the airport last month, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had instructed Sajib Gautam, director general of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), to expand the terminal building and parking space.
Pradip Adhikari, director of National Pride Projects, said work was underway to select consultants for the expansion. The consultants will provide a detailed report on the extent and areas for expansion.
The current parking space can accommodate 6 aircraft, which will be upgraded to accommodate at least 10 aircraft. Likewise, the terminal buildings will also be made similar to that of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).
"A detailed project report (DPR) will be produced after the on-sight study," Adhikari said, adding: "And then, the process for calling tender bids will begin.”
According to Prawesh Adhikari, project chief of Gautam Buddha International Airport, the terminal building and parking areas seem inadequate because they were constructed according to a 2012 model.
The capacity will be increased as per the new model, the building will be equipped with the latest technology, and it will possess a capacity greater than the terminal building of TIA, according to officials.
An aero-bridge will also be constructed which will make it possible for travelers to directly enter the aircraft from the terminal building.
BLACK-TOPPING IN LAST PHASE
Blacktopping of the runway at Gautam Budhha International Airport has reached the final phase. Three layers of blacktopping of the runway have already been completed, and the final layer will be done soon.
"The plan is to carry a test flight on June 28," Prawesh Adhikari, project chief of the airport, said. "The blacktopping of the 3,000-meter long and 45-meter wide runway will be completed by the end of April, while the 1,900-meter long and 23-meter wide taxi bay will also be completed."
Approximately 70% of the construction activity has already finished. Eighteen percent of electrical work and 12% of civil work remain, which will easily be completed by the set time, according to Adhikari.
As of now, the airport apron work for parking 6 aircraft has already finished. Only the finishing works of terminal building, administrative building, and control tower are left.
Among the structural components, all infrastructures at the arrival area are ready. Electricity sub-station, fire control room, and water tanks are being constructed.
As per the current pace of work, Adhikari is hopeful that the test flight will take place on the targeted date.
Along with physical works, technical works at the airport are also ongoing. Equipment required for air traffic control is being imported and installed steadily. The construction of the cargo building has also been intensified. Fifteen percent of the total work has finished for which CAAN had invested Rs 1 billion.
The airport, which covers a total area of 10,000 ropani, will include radar, hanger, depot of Nepal Oil Corporation, immigration area, and catering services among others. Apart from the terminal building, all other infrastructures are more modern than those in TIA. The long term target is to provide services to 16,000 people on a daily basis. The contract for the airport was signed at Rs 6.22 billion. The infrastructures have been improved and further modernized for smoother service.
The completion of the airport construction will help the campaign for Visit Nepal 2020 by providing direct flights for international tourists into Lumbini. Air traffic from TIA, which is the only current international airport, will be diverted, allowing for smoother operation.