First Business News Portal in English from Nepal
KATHMANDU: In a move to enhance international air connectivity, the government has announced a reduction in ground handling fees for foreign airline companies operating flights to and from the Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) and Pokhara Regional International Airport (PRIA).
Furthermore, discussions will be initiated with the authorities in Thailand, India, and China to establish air connectivity with these international airports, Finance Minister Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat said while announcing the budget for the upcoming fiscal year during a joint session of the Federal Parliament on Monday.
The much-hyped GBIA in Bhairahawa has not yet commenced full operations in over a year, raising concerns among private sector investors who have invested heavily in the hospitality sector. Around 146 hotels, big and small, are operational with the investment of around Rs 30 billion. Besides, around 21 hotels are under construction at the cost of approximately Rs 20 billion.
The airport was constructed at a total cost of US$ 76 million, with significant contributions of US$ 37 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and approximately US$ 11 million from the OPEC Fund for International Development, while the remaining funding came from the Government of Nepal.
Similar to how the PRIA has failed to draw foreign travelers, the infrastructure’s intended goals have not been attained.
Additionally, Finance Minister Dr Mahat, while presenting the budget for the upcoming fiscal year 2022/23, disclosed plans to upgrade and develop four airports – Biratnagar, Bharatpur, Nepalganj, and Dhangadhi – as regional airports. Moreover, Chaurjahari Airport in Rukum, Tarigaon Airport in Dang, Khalanga Airport in Jumla, and Udayapur’s Sagarmatha Airport will also be upgraded.
The government has further pledged to facilitate air transport to remote areas by offering concessions to airlines serving in those regions, aiming to improve accessibility and ease of travel for the local communities. The airport was built with an investment of Rs 22 billion in concessional loans and grants from China’s Exim Bank. .
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