March 13: The operation of Gautam Buddha International Airport has been delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The infrastructure development of the airport is in final phase but the installation of vital equipment has not been possible due to the epidemic, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).
CAAN informed New Business Age that the progress in physical infrastructure of the airport is 85 percent but it will take at least six more months for the airport to come into operation. The civil aviation governing body further said that although technically the airport can be operated in six months, commercial flights will be possible only after a year.
Director of CAAN, Pradeep Adhikari, said that the operation of the airport will be delayed as they have to import some equipment from China, which is reeling under the effect of COVID-19.
“The overall progress of the airport has been delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak although the physical infrastructures are almost ready,” he said.
Adhikari further said that the full operation of the airport will be possible only in 2021 although the government had earlier said the airport would be ready by the time of the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign kicks off.
The project had started in 2015 with the target of completing it within December 2017. However, the delay on part of the contractor, obstruction caused by the locals, Madhes movement and lack of raw materials among others delayed the national pride project.
The deadline of the project had been extended up to March 2020 but it has once again been pushed further back.