Gautam Buddha International Airport which is also known as Lumbini International Airport is proposed as the second international airport of Nepal. This airport is constructed on Bhairawaha, Rupandehi district. Upon completion of this airport, it will serve an alternative airport of the only international airport here in Nepal; Tribhuwan International Airport, which is facing a huge traffic in the recent year. Apart from this international airport, there is one domestic airport at Bhairawaha, which is being upgraded as an international airport. With the target of completion within the year 2020, which Nepal is marking Visit Nepal Year 2020; the workers are continuously working to finish this project on time i.e. before the year 2020. There is also plan for a test flight in a few months.
The Bhairahawa airport was first operated on year 1958 and has been serving as a domestic airport till date. This airport has been helping to connect different districts nearby and also the tourists who visit Lumbini as Buddhist Heritage Tour.
Due to the excess pressure and traffic on the only international airport here in Kathmandu, then Prime Minister of Nepal, Sushil Koirala laid the foundation stone for this project in year 2015 with the deadline of December 2017. But due to the various reasons like political protest, border blockade, shortage of construction material, and payment issues between the Nepali contractor and the Chinese contractor, the deadline has been revised twice. Now, if everything goes as planned without any obstruction during construction, it is projected to be completed within the year 2020. With the completion of almost 50 percent physical progress, the authorities are planning for a test flight in October 2019. Upon completion of this national pride construction, it is believed to upgrade the industrial hub Bhairahawa and also increase international pilgrimage in Lumbini. Upon completion of this airport upgrading, the handling capacity of this airport will be increased to around 750,000 annually and around 4000 passenger in an hour.
This newly upgrading Gautam Buddha International Airport next to Buddhist Tourist Site is located at an altitude of 109 m above the sea level and has a runway of 3000 meter. The whole airport covers an area of 10,000 ropani. There will be hanger, immigration area, Nepal Oil Corporation depot, and radar. With the two-way approach, this airport will be able to hold (park) at least 10 planes. The current parking spot of this airport can accommodate only 6 small aircraft. This new terminal building will be equipped with the latest new technology and the capacity will be more than the current international airport and also there will be an aero-bridge built for the passenger which helps passenger to enter aircraft directly from the terminal and vice versa.
This upgrading project as International Airport is started in 2015 January. However actual work started in Decebmer 2017 due to various conflicts and Nepal Earthquake 2015.
As the report of Gautam Buddha International Airport upgrading project 80 % of Work is Completed at end of July 2019.
Deadline of Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) Project is December 2019, which was extend for 2 time.
Gautam Buddha International Airport Due to Open Near Lumbini, Nepal, in Mid-2020 -via BUDDHIST DOOR
Bhairahawa airport is nearing completion, but no foreign airline has applied to serve it as News on Kathmandu Post 28 November 2019
With the completion of this Gautam Buddha International Airport, it is expected that more people will visit Nepal as well as it will help to control the air traffic in the Tribhuwan International Airport by diverting the flight to the Gautam Buddha International Airport. Upon completion of this internal airport, it will help internal tourist to directly fly to Gautam Buddha International Airport avoiding the Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu.
During the Coronavirus Lockdown (COVID-19) the working progress of Lumbini Regional International Airport was slow. Surely it will push the project ending date by little far. Although the opening day as Commercial International Airport is not fixed but the project keen to complete before date. As the press release of 22 July 2020, about 91% of task is completed. As the contractor, if there will not big trouble, with in next 9 months Lumbini Regional International Airport will able to ready for commercial flights.
As the technical officer, it takes about 3 months to certified and approve the airport as international Regional Airport of Lumbini. Further he adds, the instruments of ICB-1 is already completed. Communication, navigation, surveillance instruments, weather forecasting systems etc of ICB-2 are under its way to completion. Similarly, fourth taxi way, filling, fencing and gardening, final painting touch, air conditioning and wiring, runway and electrical works are major work to get the benefits of monsoon season.
However, the previous deadline to complete this project was March 31, 2020. This national pride project was started from 31 December 2014 by the Northwest Civil Aviation. By its completion Lumbini International airport can handle 16000 passenger daily.
As the Experts words, Lumbini Regional Airport will be bigger, better and advance than that of Kathmandu International Airport, which is also the second International Airport of Nepal.