Government, Germany’s Munich Airport to hold final round of talksThe agenda includes the operation management of Gautam Buddha International Airport.
Rajan Pokhrel, director general at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, said that a round of negotiation with the company has been completed and the final negotiation would be completed immediately after the Tihar festival.
Pokhrel, who is also a member of the government committee entrusted with the task to deal with the company, said talks were going well.
“We have formally invited the company for a final round of negotiation which will conclude the operation management fee and other services that the company will impart at the new airport,” Pokhrel told the Post.
Pokhrel said that the committee has also been working on launching an incentive package to attract international airlines at the new airport. “We will also discuss the incentive package with the company [Munich Airport]. If the company is appointed for the operation of management services, we have to jointly launch the package.”
Giving monetary incentives is not uncommon in many newly developed airports globally. According to a Malaysian news report, a Malaysian airport had given cash incentives to airlines that continue to bring in additional passenger traffic to the country.
The report says that even Singapore’s Changi Airport does it, with the size of the monetary award in proportion to the number of passengers brought in.
Pokhrel did not divulge the incentive package they have been mulling—cash or free landing parking and other services—but some officials at the Tourism Ministry said a cash incentive would be more effective. “We have not decided on the incentive package but there are several modalities which will be discussed.”
In June, the Cabinet gave the Tourism Ministry approval to appoint international firms for the operational readiness and airport transfer (ORAT) operation of the Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa through a government to government deal following a proposal from Munich Airport including other international firms.
Munich Airport is the second busiest airport in Germany in terms of passenger traffic after Frankfurt Airport, and the seventh busiest airport in Europe, handling 44.6 million passengers in 2017.
Located in south-central Nepal, the airport will be the gateway to the international pilgrimage destination of Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha. The airport will have a 3,000-metre-long and 45-metre-wide runway.
The much-delayed airport is expected to be completed by December-end and conduct test flights by March-end next year.
As only finishing the construction work will not assure operational readiness, ORAT will play a big role in helping the new facility open on time, according to the Tourism Ministry officials.
ORAT is the best way to ensure that every aspect of a new facility functions flawlessly right from day one. ORAT consultants work with airport stakeholders to formulate new processes, train staff, and test every single new system and procedure from passenger and baggage handling to airside operations.
The government is under heavy pressure to improve the efficiency of the sole international airport in Kathmandu that is managed by the Civil Aviation Authority. It plans to test how efficiently Munich Airport will operate the new airport.
Government officials said a timely inauguration of the airport would give a boost to the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign when the country expects to host 2 million tourists.
Construction work at Gautam Buddha International Airport began in January 2015. The Civil Aviation Authority awarded the Rs6.22-billion contract to China’s Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group in November 2013. The airport was initially slated to be ready in December 2017. The project suffered multiple hurdles that pushed back the completion deadline several times.