The Gautam Buddha Airport project in Bhairahawa said that additional parking bays at the airport will be developed as per the study in response to the Finance Ministry’s concern that the currently designed parking stands are insufficient.
The Finance Ministry had asked the Tourism Ministry a few months ago to build another 10 parking bays at the under-construction international airport in Bhairahawa as both passenger and aircraft movement are expected to rise in the near future.
As per the current design of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded project, the airport will have only six parking bays.
“We have issued the expression of interest regarding the consultancy service for design, supervision and estimate of a new international terminal building at the airport. The additional aircraft parking stands will be constructed based on the detailed design report of the terminal building,” said Pradeep Adhikari, director of the National Pride Project under the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).
The international terminal building at the Gautam Buddha Airport will be constructed in an area of more than 30,000 square metres—nearly the size of Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport’s (TIA) terminal space. “Based on this terminal building size, there will be nine parking bays,” said Adhikari. “The detailed design report will recommend whether the additional parking stands will be needed or not as suggested by the Finance Ministry.”
The Finance Ministry’s move to develop additional parking bays was prompted by the experience at TIA which has only nine parking bays and is plagued by severe congestion, both on the ground and in the air. The traffic congestion is getting worse by the day, with airlines aggressively expanding their fleets due to growing air travel demand in the country.
The national pride project in Bhairahawa has been envisaged to serve the fast-rising business and industrial hub of Bhairahawa and facilitate international pilgrimage to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Last August, the Finance Ministry had asked the Tourism Ministry to add 10 parking bays without affecting the project deadline. The much-delayed airport project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019.
Meanwhile, amid concerns that CAAN has not yet started hiring and training manpower for the operation of the airport, Adhikari said that they will outsource the majority of manpower. The new airport will require more than 400 personnel for efficient operation.
“As per our plan, 30 percent of the technical manpower will be fulfilled internally, 20 percent will be recruited through vacancy and the remaining will be outsourced,” said Adhikari.
The project has achieved more than 55 percent physical progress as of mid-November in the civil works component. This component represents 70 percent of the project while the remaining 30 percent involves Communications, Navigation and Surveillance (ANS) and Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems. The project has already issued bids for the communications and navigation system.
The CAAN awarded the Rs6.22-billion Gautam Buddha Airport upgradation contract to China’s Northwest
Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group in November 2013. The airport was initially slated to be ready in December 2017. However, the project suffered multiple hurdles that pushed back
the completion deadline by two years.