Munich Airport close to being named operator of Bhairahawa airportOfficials said the Germans had been asked to submit a detailed plan including the operation modality.
The government has formed a six-member team to hold negotiations with the German airport.
Rajan Pokhrel, director general at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal and a member of the team, said that, following several rounds of talks, they had told Munich Airport to submit its detailed plan including the operation modality and the fee and revenue sharing structure.
“Munich Airport is expected to submit the plan by the second week of November,” said Pokhrel. He added that the operational management period would be fixed after negotiations.
“It may be three months or more. It will depend on the detailed proposal and negotiations,” he said. “The panel will review their proposal and hold further talks,” Pokhrel said. “After that, if both sides reach an agreement, it will be presented to the Cabinet for its approval.”
Pokhrel said that the committee had also been working on launching an incentive package to attract international airlines to fly to Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa.
In June, the Cabinet gave the Tourism Ministry the go-ahead to appoint international firms for the operational readiness and airport transfer (ORAT) operation of Gautam Buddha International Airport through a government-to-government deal after receiving proposals from Munich Airport and other international firms.
Munich Airport is the second busiest airport in Germany after Frankfurt Airport in terms of passenger traffic, and the seventh busiest airport in Europe, handling 44.6 million passengers in 2017.
Located in south-central Nepal, Gautam Buddha International 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, and officials said they expected to conduct test flights by March next year.
As only finishing construction work will not assure operational readiness, ORAT will play a big role in helping the new facility open on time, according to 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.