Nepal has opened its second international airport, Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA), which features a 15,169m2 terminal building and a runway of 3,000m.
The airport is located 19km from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lumbini and can accommodate wide-body airplanes. Moreover, an advanced Instrument Landing System will be used at GBIA, a first for Nepal, to enable aircraft landing even in reduced visibility.
Sher Bahadur Deuba, Prime Minister of Nepal, inaugurated the airport. The opening was marked by a successful landing of an international commercial flight. Asian Development Bank (ADB) supported the Government of Nepal in upgrading and building the GBIA through its South Asia Tourism Infrastructure Development Project. This project also helps Bangladesh, India and Nepal improve infrastructure and services in key tourist sites.
The total cost of the airport construction was US$76.1m. Of this, ADB’s contribution totaled about US$37m in loans and grants, while the OPEC Fund for International Development contributed about US$11m in loans. The rest was funded by the Government of Nepal.
Arnaud Cauchois, Nepal country director at ADB, said, “The airport will help connect Lumbini – a major tourist and pilgrimage destination – to Buddhist circuits in South Asia as well as to the rest of the world. On a broader context, 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.”
Prem Bahadur Ale, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, said, “The opening of the airport is a moment of pride for the country. As Nepal’s second international airport, the GBIA 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.”