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Gautam Buddha International Airport to Come Into Operation After 18 Months

Construction is underway at the two international airports including that in Pokhara and Bhairahawa. Gautam Buddha International Airport, out of the two, will come into operation after 18 months, reports Setopati.

Image Credit: The Kathmandu Post

Why it matters:

The construction of the Gautam Buddha Airport had begun in 2015, and it was to be completed by December 2017. Following the shortage of fuel and building materials and contractor disputes the deadline of the project had kept shifting backward and backward. However, finally the project has gained momentum and according to project chief Om Sharma, the airport can come into operation within 2019 if the pace of the project continues.

The Backstory:

  • The construction work of the airport had not gained any momentum due to lack of construction materials and disputes between local partners and Chinese contractors, even though the construction work had started in 2015. Following the disputes, the deadline for the project on December 2017 was extended by six months previously.
  • Now that only two months are remaining on the current deadline, the project and civil aviation authority contractors have again agreed for extending the deadline
  • It is only recently that the construction of the runway, terminal, air traffic control (ATC), administrative building and installation of communication tools have gained pace.

What they are saying:

  • “The airport can come into operation within 2019 if this pace continues,” project chief Om Sharma told Setopati.
  • “We are working on subbase layer compression. We will then work on base course layer,” says project chief Om Sharma. Adding “It will take two months to complete the base course layer. After completing the base course layer, the runway will be blacktopped.”
  • “Blacktopping of the runway will be started after the monsoon. The completion of the administration building and roofing of terminal building too will be done,” Sharma said, “Stocking of required materials for blacktopping has been started whereas the asphalt plant has also been installed. The physical infrastructures will be prepared within 2019.”
  • “Adequate discussions have been held on whether to cancel or give continuity to the contractor. But canceling the agreement would take a longer time and also increase the investment,” he said, “We have reached a conclusion to give continuity to the current contractor.” 

The Details:

  • The construction of ground floor of the terminal building along with the administrative, security and electronic control buildings have been completed. The construction of ATC building has also reached its final stage.
  • The airport will have 3000-meter runway and will be able to handle 400 passengers per hour.
  • According to Sharma, flight testing will be done as soon as construction of the airport finishes in mid-2019.

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