RUPANDEHI: Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba formally inaugurated the Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) in Bhairahawa, Rupandehi district today.
On the occasion, PM Deuba said the opening of GBIA has created the foundation for the nation’s tourism and sustainable economic development. He expressed his belief that tourist arrivals would increase.
Stating that Nepal is a country with immense possibilities for tourism, he believed this airport will be of help in utilising the tourism potential and disseminating the message about Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, throughout the world.
On the occasion, Home Minister Bal Krishna Khand said the GBIA will support promoting tourism in a big way. He shared that although the construction of the airport was delayed to some extent due to the Covid 19 pandemic, it is successfully constructed through the joint efforts from all sides. The Home Minister also thanked the former Prime Minister and the former Tourism Minister for their positive role in construction of the GBIA.
Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Prem Bahadur Ale expressed that Nepal’s message of peace and prosperity will be spread across the world from the land of Buddha. He said GBIA is one of the five national pride projects to be completed, adding that the country’s tourism and economic development would take a stride after the completion of all these five projects under the Ministry of Tourism.
The Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister also announced that the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and GBIA will be operated 24 hours from today.
Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Director General Pradeep Adhikari said GBIA will be an alternative of TIA with the operation of international flights. He further added that the operation of GBIA has put to an end the compulsion of having to divert aeroplanes to the neighbouring countries in situations when aircraft could not land or take off from TIA due to technical problems.
Adhikari said that this airport situated in Siddharthanagar Municipality has been taken as a multi-dimensional project of Nepal. He described it as the gateway to Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha and a means of connecting it to the rest of the world.
The construction of the GBIA had been started in early 2015 with the target of completing it in December of 2017. However, the construction was stalled in the middle due to the negligence of the construction company. Although a latest deadline was set for March 2020, the airport has been brought for commercial operation about five years later due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
CAAN said approximately Rs 11 billion has been invested in the first phase of this project constructed with the soft loan provided by the Asian Development Bank. The process of construction of the terminal building in the second phase will be forwarded soon. The airport is constructed by a Chinese construction company.
Domestic airlines have been operating flights to and from the airport since the calibration flight was successfully conducted. Private airline companies such as Buddha Air, yeti Airlines, Shree Airlines, Saurya Airlines, among other companies are operating flights from here.