Nepal’s second international airport, the Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA), has recently opened. It is located 19 km from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lumbini.
The new airport facility, which can accommodate wide-body airplanes, features a 15,169-sq-m terminal building and a new runway of 3,000 m. An advanced Instrument Landing System will also be used in GBIA, a first for Nepal, to allow aircraft landing even in reduced visibility.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) supported the Government of Nepal in upgrading and building the GBIA through the South Asia Tourism Infrastructure Development Project. The total cost of the airport construction is US$76.1 million. Of this, ADB’s contribution is about US$37 million in loans and grants, while the OPEC Fund for International Development contributed about US$11 million in loan. The rest is funded by the Government of Nepal.
The opening of the airport was marked by a successful landing of an international commercial flight. Speaking at the inaugural event, ADB country director for Nepal Arnaud Cauchois said, “The airport will help connect Lumbini – a major tourist and pilgrimage destination – to Buddhist circuits in South Asia as well as to the rest of the world.
“On a broader context, the airport will form a cornerstone of the country’s overall development by facilitating tourism, expanding trade and economic activities, generating local employment opportunities, and improving international air transport access to migrant workers and people living in the nearby provinces.”
“The opening of the airport is a moment of pride for the country,” added Nepal’s Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Prem Bahadur Ale. “As Nepal’s second international airport, the GBIA will serve as alternate for Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, and airlines will no longer have to divert to other countries in the event of bad weather or other technical issues.”