Sunday, 19th May, 2019

India agrees to provide air route for Bhairahawa Airport: Minister Adhikari

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari, who has recently returned from India visit, has said India has agreed to provide entry point for the Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa.

The under-construction airport, that is expected to come into operation from the next year, would face problem in commercial operation with just one entry point as it is now. Minister Adhikari said the government is working on acquiring an entry point from near Bhirahawa to make landing and take-off from the airport easier.

Minister Adhikari, who was in India to participate in the Global Aviation Summit held in Mumbai last week, said agreement on that route was reached after discussion with Indian Minister for Commerce, Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu there. He revealed that India is also positive about providing more air routes.

India had agreed in principle to provide additional entry routes for airplanes to Nepal through Janakpur, Nepalgunj and Mahendranagar apart from Birgunj on June 16, 2018 but had been dallying to provide the routes. It has agreed to immediately provide additional route only through Bhairahawa even now.

“We have made efforts to untangle the issue of route as the airport in Bhairahawa is on the verge of operation. India has agreed on our request and the issue has already moved forward,” Adhikari told Setopati. “Designing of the route is being done now to provide entry point from Bhairahawa.”
He said the countries have agreed to continue discussions even on the other air routes after the meeting with his Indian counterpart. All the airplanes that arrive using the Indian sky currently can only enter from Simara.

India currently allows exit from Bhairahawa. It will also allow entry after conducting safety assessments which will take around a year.

Entry from Bhairahawa will not just help operation of the airport there but will also shorten the distance for international planes coming from the destinations west to Nepal.

The runway in the Gautam Buddha International Airport is currently being blacktopped. Blacktopping of the runway and taxi-way will be completed by April, and the terminal building and tower will be completed by June, according to project chief Pravesh Adhikari. He said the airport will be made ready for operation by October.

Minister Adhikari said the government is also close to concluding the modality for operating the airport. He revealed that the Finance Ministry has already consented to allow operation of the airport in public-private partnership model.
Companies from Qatar, Germany, Canada and UAE have expressed interest in operation of the airport. Minister Adhikari said the ministry is discussing on their proposals and the government will soon seek letter of intent after taking Cabinet decision.

“We have decided to hand over operation of the airport to a foreign company. We will select the company through government-to-government agreement.”


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