Shekhar Regmi

Biratnagar, January 18:

The busiest airport of the eastern region is getting a make over. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has started groundwork to transform this airport into a regional one from the coming fiscal year.

The airport is being developed into a regional airport after 36 years in operations. Earlier, it had the same status as that of other airports in the country. After the proposed development, the airport would be able to accommodate jet planes easily. CAAN stated that after the installation of required physical equipment, a 150-seat capacity jet could land here. The central office of CAAN has begun work from Sunday. The CAAN Biratnagar chief, Yogendra Raut said increasing pressure of air travellers and aeroplanes led CAAN to expand the airport.

Raut pointed out the need to expand all technical and physical infrastructure of the airport, adding till date, the airport was run by a primitive system. A five men team led by the deputy director Mukunda Jwala from the central office conducted an extensive study to expand the airport’s capacity. The team comprised of civil engineers, officer of air traffic services and technical staff from operation room. Raut informed the team offered many advices for expansion of the operation room, runway and parking lot. The report, tabled after the study, has recommended expansion of the runway as the first priority for transformation.

It pointed towards the need to double the 5,000 metre-long runway, to augment technical skills of operation room staff, and to widen the parking area towards the west from the present location.

CAAN Biratnagar office has said that CAAN would implement all advices put forth by the study team by next year. The plan to expand the airport was brewing for the past few years when the daily number of passengers taking off from the Biratnagar airport started crossing 500. But, after jet planes started landing at the airport few months ago, relevant changes were strongly felt. For it, a technical team proposed extension of the runway to the canal, situated east of the airport by acquiring adjacent lands. The Biratnagar airport is the central point between eastern hilly districts and Kathmandu.