Asian Development Bank approves Rs 17.7bn loan to improve two airports’ capacity

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KATHMANDU: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $150 million (equivalent to Rs 17.7 billion) concessional loan to improve the capacity of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and Gautam Buddha Airport (GBA) in Nepal.

Tourism is a major source of economic activity in Nepal. In 2019, tourism generated an estimated $2.05 billion, which accounted for 6.7% of gross domestic product. TIA in Kathmandu is the country’s sole international airport and a major hub for domestic air transport. GBA in Lumbini will serve as an alternate international air transport facility for Nepal. Lumbini is the birthplace of the Buddha and is a pilgrimage and major tourist destination.

“ADB’s support will improve the TIA’s safety, capacity, and operational efficiency. In addition, the new GBA international terminal will play a key role in boosting regional tourism in and around Lumbini,” said ADB Senior Transport Specialist for South Asia Kai Wei Yeo. “The project will help revive the country’s tourism industry and address the long-term negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

The loan will support the construction of a parallel taxiway extension and hangar aprons at TIA, and a new international terminal building at GBA to increase capacity.

Another key component of the project is minimising climate change impacts. This will be carried out by using clean energy materials, such as the solar panels and energy-efficient lighting to be installed at the new GBA terminal building.

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