The latest airport in Bhairahawa is funded by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank and OPEC Fund for International Development but built by China’s Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba
Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Monday inaugurated the country’s second international airport built by China that will help connect Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha and a major tourist and pilgrimage destination, to Buddhist circuits in South Asia as well as to the rest of the world.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lumbini
The USD 76 million Gautam Buddha International Airport was inaugurated on the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Purnima and even held comprehensive talks with his Nepalese counterpart Deuba to expand bilateral cooperation in multiple areas, including in hydropower, development, and connectivity between the two neighboring countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his entourage came to Lumbini on a special Indian Air Force helicopter from Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh. The IAF helicopter landed at the helipad constructed around the International Buddhist Prayer Centre and Auditorium in Lumbini.
The new airport in Bhairahawa, 19 kilometers from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lumbini, is funded by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank and OPEC Fund for International Development but built by China’s Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group. The construction of the airport is part of China’s ambitious forays into mega infrastructure projects in the Himalayan nation.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Prime Minister Deuba told the opening of the airport is a historic day in Nepal’s aviation and tourism sectors and will contribute to the country’s overall development and prosperity in the long run.
Speaking on the occasion, ADB Country Director for Nepal Arnaud Cauchois congratulated the Government of Nepal on the completion and opening of the airport despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Cauchois told the airport will form a cornerstone of the country’s overall development by facilitating tourism, expanding trade and economic activities, generating local employment opportunities, and improving international air transport access to migrant workers and people living in the nearby provinces.
The new airport facility, which can accommodate wide-body airplanes, features a 15,169-square-metres terminal building and a new runway of 3,000 meters. Besides, an advanced Instrument Landing System will be used in GBIA, a first for Nepal, to permit aircraft landing even in reduced visibility.
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As Nepal’s second international airport
“The opening of the airport is a moment of pride for the country. As Nepal’s second international airport, it will serve as an alternate for Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, and airlines will no longer have to divert to other countries in the event of bad weather or other technical issues,” told Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Prem Bahadur Ale.
ADB supported the Nepal Government in upgrading and building the GBIA through the South Asia Tourism Infrastructure Development Project. The total cost of the airport construction is $76.1 million.
Of this, ADB’s contribution is about USD 37 million in loans and grants, while the OPEC Fund for International Development contributed about USD 11 million in loans. The rest is funded by the Government of Nepal.
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