May 12: Bhairahawa-based Gautam Buddha International Airport, Nepal's second international airport, aims to operate 10 flights a day by the time of Dashain festival later this year.
The Gautam Buddha International Airport Project has set such a target after officials of various international airlines showed interest in operating flights to the airport. The airport is preparing to inaugurate commercial flights on May 20 coinciding with the Buddha Jayanti festival.
General Manager of the project Govinda Prasad Dahal informed that discussions in this regard were held with the representatives of various international airline companies at the airport office in Bhairahawa. He said that due to the active interest shown by them, the target was to fly 10 times a day from this airport by Dashain. Jazeera Airways, a Kuwaiti airline has already received permission for the first international flight to and from the airport.
The airline has been granted permission to operate regular flights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is scheduled to formally inaugurate commercial flight on May 20. "On the same day, Jazeera's aircraft will land at the airport carrying 170 passengers," Dahal said.
According to him, discussions have been held with the officials of Thailand's Aero Thai, Fly Dubai, Air China, Air India and airline companies from Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia. He said that discussions were also held with the officials of Nepal Airlines and Himalaya Airlines.
Customs, immigration and bank branches have been set up at the airport. "We are looking forward for the operation of the second international airport. Internal connectivity will be given equal priority,” Dahal added.
He said that other international airlines besides Jazeera are also preparing to operate international flights.
The airport has also received an aerodrome certificate. This certificate issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal will provide additional support for international flights.
Dahal said that domestic flights to Pokhara, Surkhet and Dhangadhi will also get priority. He said that the majority of Nepalis going to Buddha Circuit and Gulf countries will travel through this airport while Lumbini, Gandaki and Karnali provinces will also be linked.
A calibration flight was conducted at Gautam Buddha International Airport last February and then a test flight was conducted in April.
The construction of the airport was started in 2071 BS. The airport will come into operation after 7 years since the construction started. The Lumbini Development Fund's 'International Buddhist Conference Hall' will also be inaugurated on May 20. The hall is scheduled to be jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. Modi is coming to Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti. Dahal informed that an Indian Army aircraft landed at Gautam Buddha Airport on Wednesday.