Kathmandu, January 20
Even though Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai had time and again announced that the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) would be transformed into the country’s first boutique airport by January 1 targeting the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign, the airport is still under construction phase.
Till date, only a big statue of Lord Buddha at the arrival lounge has been inaugurated and the country’s sole international airport, which is the gateway for international flight arrivals, is yet to be ready for VN 2020.
There is still uncertainty on when the interior works of the international terminal building and other renovation works will be completed.
According to Deo Chandra Lal Karna, spokesperson for TIA, almost 90 per cent of the work has been completed so far. “As per our plan to upgrade TIA into a boutique airport, some works are remaining in the international terminal building,” he said. “Most of the works have been completed and TIA has witnessed immense changes in the recent days.”
According to him, renovation of counters in the departure area of the international terminal building is underway at the moment. “We are renovating check-in counters, baggage clearance area as well as changing the area of x-ray machine at the moment,” he said, adding, “Works are running smoothly based on our terminal building expansion project.”
Meanwhile, changes are also being made in the domestic terminal building gradually, Karna added. He further said that installation of canopy at the airport premises and works of gardens are going on. “These are civil works that are carried out on a regular basis, so there is no such thing as fully completing them,” he clarified. “As and when the need arises, such works are carried out.”
However, TIA has received immense criticism on social networking sites for not having clean restrooms and also for other managerial things. Apparently, Minister Bhattarai himself inspected the airport a few days ago and directed airport officials to maintain the hygiene of the restrooms.
When TIA General Manager Devendra KC was questioned on why TIA was not ready before the VN 2020 campaign began, he answered that construction of taxiway and parking bay is more important than the airport being upgraded into a boutique airport.
“We were more focused on TIA rehabilitation, however, works of converting TIA into a boutique airport have also been undertaken simultaneously,” he said.
Prior to this, former TIA GM Raj Kumar Chhetri had also said that TIA would be completely transformed into a boutique airport only by October this year.
A version of this article appears in print on January 21, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.