Rajbiraj Airport begins commercial operationsRajbiraj Airport in south-eastern Nepal has come into commercial operation nearly a month after the test flight was conducted.
Rajbiraj Airport in south-eastern Nepal has come into commercial operation nearly a month after the test flight was conducted.
On Sunday, Shree Airlines made its scheduled flight with a Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ). The carrier said it would be operating five weekly flights on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
The airport lies 3km south of Bishnupur Rural Municipality from the district headquarters.
Locals were elated with the beginning of commercial flights at the airport which took more than a decade to resume operation. “The dreams of people in Rajbiraj has finally materialised into reality. We expect that there will be regular flights in the sector,” said Sadhana Jha, deputy mayor of Rajbiraj Municipality.
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. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan), 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. However, the Finance Ministry has not released the fund and that has halted the land procurement process.