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Gautam Buddha Int'l Airport to start commercial flights
By Rastriya Samachar Samiti
Published: 11:51 am Feb 18, 2022

The Gautam Buddha International Airport, a project of national pride in Bhairahawa (Rupandehi), is to commence commercial operation on May 16, the day of Buddha Purnima.The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has said that commercial test flight (calibration flight) will start from tomorrow. CAAN Director General Pradip Adhikari said that necessary preparations have been made for the operation of Gautam Buddha Airport as the second international airport of the country. He mentioned that the calibration flight will be conducted for seven days.Aero Thai aircraft landed in Nepal today for that purpose.The HS-AIM aircraft, which landed at Tribhuvan International Airport from Thailand in the afternoon, reached Bhairahawa airport today, said CAAN engineer Muluk Mishra. After the test flight is successful, commercial flights will operate.Bhairahawa Airport has same passenger handling capacity as TIA. Director General Adhikari said that Gautam Buddha International Airport has same capacity as TIA when it comes to passenger handling. Both international airports can handle around 9.2 million passengers annually, but for that to happen, another terminal should be brought into operation at the earliest at the Gautam Buddha International Airport.The current terminal at the Gautam Buddha International Airport can only handle around 2 million passengers, according to CAAN. The second terminal at Gautam Buddha International Airport will be operative very soon, assured Adhikari.Stating that Gautam Buddha International Airport was of strategic importance for economic growth of the country, he asserted that Nepal's aviation sector had taken another stride with the construction of soon-to-be-operated international Airport. TIA in 2018 handled 7.1 million passengers. Had there been no COVID-19 crisis, the TIA could not handle the ever-increasing flow of passengers in the only international airport in the country so far.The COVID-19 crisis also slowed down technical work related to the construction and operation process of the second international airport in the country. Commercial operation would have started if ther e was no COVID-19 crisis, said CAAN.Thanks to the consistent follow-up and positive intervention of CAAN, the airport in Bhairahawa will be operative very soon.The Gautam Buddha International Airport was initially a sick project, but it gained significant physical progress in no time. It has become a model project among the other projects of national pride due to its timely construction.The project suffered some setbacks initially. Delay and negligence on the part of the contractor company impeded the project, while the COVID-19 crisis also contributed to the slowdown of construction.Initiated in 2015, the Airport construction should have ideally been completed by 2017.Deadline for construction was reset for March 2020, but the construction process hit a snag yet again due the breakout of COVID-19 in 2020.A Chinese construction company-Northwest Civil Aviation Construction Group- constructed the airport at subsidized loan from the Asian Development Bank. So far, Rs 11 billion has been spent on construction of the airport having a runway of 45 metre width and 3,000-metre length.As the Gautam Buddha International Airport is coming into operation very soon, it is believed that the second international airport in the country will help reduce the pressure on TIA.

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