Rajbiraj Airport resumes operations after a decadeRajbiraj Airport in south-eastern Nepal has come into operation after completing upgradation since it was closed a decade ago.
Rajbiraj Airport in south-eastern Nepal has come into operation after completing upgradation since it was closed a decade ago.
Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari inaugurated the airport on Thursday. The airport lies 3km south of Bishnupur Rural Municipality from the district headquarters. On Thursday, hundreds of locals arrived at the airport to look at the aircraft landing.
After the airport’s trial was completed on Wednesday, Shree Airlines made its maiden commercial charter flight with Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) on Thursday.
The airport is expected to see regular flights after 15 days as the air traffic control tower and terminal has yet to be completed. Adhikari said that the long dream of the people living Rajbiraj to resume airport operations has come into reality. “We expect that the airport will see regular flights.”
The construction of the airport had started in 1959 and was inaugurated by then Transport Minister Ganesh Man Singh.
The airport was subsequently closed down after a few days. Due to the lack of necessary infrastructure and dirt runway, the airport had been transformed into animal grazing land.
After much pressure from the locals, few aircraft landed in the airfield in November 2007. However, the service was halted again after a few weeks as the airline did not receive adequate passengers.
Locals and political leaders had been pressurising the government to upgrade the airport. “After a long gap, Rajbiraj is not connected with air link with the Kathmandu airport,” said Sanjeev Gautam, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan). “We expect that the airport will get regular flights.” According to him, the government has invested Rs303 million for the upgradation of the airport.
The 1,500-metre-long and 30-metre-wide runway has been built with blacktop surface. Likewise, the 90-metre-long and 60-metre-wide apron and 110-metre-long and 20-metre-wide taxiway has been blacktopped. The airport upgradation project was awarded to a joint venture company in October 16, 2016 with the completion deadline of November 2017.
As the company failed to complete the project by the stipulated time, the project was given an extra five months to finish.
However, the airport has not acquired additional land as the existing land is not sufficient to expand the airport.
As the airport needs to create a buffer area in both ends of the runway, it needs an additional 22 bigas land. The Tourism Ministry has allocated Rs520 million for this purpose, according to the airport officials.
However, the Finance Ministry has not released the fund and that has halted the land procurement process.