18 April 2019, Pokhara – Relieving the congestion of being only international airport in the country, Nepal’s mega projects are taking its shape in time and rising hope for better future ahead for tourism and aviation industry.
As reported by Civil aviation authority of Nepal, The runway at the international airport being constructed in Pokhara has been completed two years after the project launched, raising hopes that the infrastructure will be ready before schedule.
Sanjiv Gautam, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, said that the 2,500-metre-long and 45-metre-wide rigid pavement, the first of its kind in Nepal, was completed on Wednesday. “The rigid pavement will not require repair works for at least 25 years,” he said.
In March, workers completed building the apron where aircraft will be parked. It is spread over an area of 5,519 square meters. The runway will be able to handle medium-range commercial aircraft such as the Airbus A320, Boeing 737 and Boeing 757. The airport will have a 1,200-meter-long and 23-meter-wide taxiway connecting the runway with the parking bays, hangars and terminals.
The main international terminal building with a capacity to handle 650 passengers per hour is expected to be ready in one and a half years, Gautam said. The airport will have three parking bays for A320-type jets with aerobridge facility and five parking bays for ATR-type aircraft. There will be a separate terminal and parking bay for domestic flights.
Gautam said that, as of Wednesday, the project had achieved 35 percent physical progress and planned to complete 40 percent by the end of this fiscal year ending mid-July. “With this progress, we have targeted to bring the airport into operation by 2020,” he said.
As per the agreement, the contractor is required to hand over the project to the government on July 10, 2021. The new airport is located at Chhinnedanda, 3 km east of the existing domestic airport. The facility coming up at the tourist and commercial hub of Pokhara will serve as the aerial gateway to the Annapurna region, one of Nepal’s major trekking destinations.
China CAMC Engineering won the construction contract for the project in May 2014. The government signed a $215.96 million soft loan agreement with China EXIM Bank in March 2016 to finance the construction of the airport in the lake city. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli laid the foundation stone for the airport on April 13, 2016. As per the agreement, 25 percent of the loan from China EXIM Bank is interest-free. The interest on the rest of the loan has been fixed at 2 percent per year. The loan repayment period has been fixed at 20 years, including a grace period of seven years when no interest will be charged. The government will bear any risk from fluctuations in the foreign exchange rate.
The airport is being built under the engineering procurement and construction model. Under this model, a single contractor takes responsibility for all components like design, engineering, construction and procurement. The contract binds the contractor to deliver the project at the stipulated time and at the predetermined price regardless of any possible cost overruns.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said the runway at Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa is expected to be completed by end of April this year too.