Asian Development Bank approves US$150 million for Nepal airport upgrades
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved US$150 million in loans for airport upgrades in Nepal. The concessional loan is provided to improve the capacity of Gautam Buddha Airport and Tribhuvan International Airport. The government of Nepal will also invest US$48 million into the projects. Thus, total project expenditure is US$198 million.
The Asian Development Bank sees airports as a key factor in Nepal’s economy. The airport upgrades are needed to increase the country’s appeal to tourists. Tourism generated around US$2.05 billion in revenue in Nepal in 2019. That figure is 6.7 percent of the gross domestic product in the country.
Located in the capital of Kathmandu, Tribhuvan International Airport is Nepal’s only international airport. US$100 million will be spent on a parallel taxiway and a new hangar apron facility.
Gautam Buddha International Airport in Lumbini will add a new US$60 million international passenger terminal. The building will be fitted with solar panels and energy-efficient lighting.
Nepal has a short aviation history. Indian Ambassador Sarjit Singh Mahathia landed a 4-seater, single-engine aircraft, in 1949. The landing site became known as Gauchaur Airport and would later become Tribhuvan International Airport. A year later, the first charter flight from Nepal left Gauchaur in 1950. The first concrete runway was added at Gauchaur in 1957 as an upgrade to the previous grass version.
Nepal had previously planned to extend Tribhuvan International Airport. A contract was awarded to Tribhuvan International Airport SANJOSE Constructora but it was terminated in 2016. The work was later given to a Chinese contractor, but they withdrew from the project citing high cement prices of one of their reasons.
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