The budget of the Authority has fallen to Rs41 billion, but aims to complete two international airports and extend the parallel taxiway at Kathmandu airport by the end of the fiscal year.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has cut its annual budget as its revenues are expected to dry up significantly this fiscal year due to uncertainty over regular flights, even though the government plans to open the country’s only international airport on 17 August.
The largest portion of the authority’s income comes from passengers and landing and parking charges of airplanes.
On Monday, the Board of Directors of the civil aviation authority approved a budget of Rs41.11 billion for the implementation of key programs and projects for the fiscal year 2020-21, down from Rs47 billion, last fiscal year. The aviation authority was only able to spend 42% of the budget last fiscal year, as most of its projects were affected by the lockdown.
“The budget focuses on giving continuity to the ongoing infrastructure projects. There are only a few new projects planned for this fiscal year,” said Raj Kumar Chhetri, spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. “The budget has been reduced based on the projection that flights and passenger movement would not fully resume this year.”
Airport development tax, passenger service charges, parking and navigation charges account for the major revenues of the airport. Almost Rs 5 billion is collected from passengers and only charges for airport development and passenger services.
According to the authority, a significant chunk of the budget has been allocated for three major infrastructure projects—Gautam Buddha International Airport Project in Bhairahawa, Pokhara International Airport Project and parallel taxiway expansion at the Tribhuvan International Airport, all of which targeted to be completed by the fiscal year ending mid-July 2021.
After several postponements, Gautam Buddha International Airport was scheduled to be completed in March. Most of the airport equipment would come from China, but the shipment schedule went haywire after Covid-19 had first been reported in Wuhan in December 2019, which put an end to production and supply.
The project, which has achieved 91 percent physical progress, has set the completion deadline of December. According to airport officials, if they get technicians in August to install the runway lighting system and other communication and navigational aids, the airport will be ready for operation by the end of this year.
Pokhara airport was planned to be completed six months before the July 10, 2021 deadline, but the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the plan. According to Chhetri, if works continue smoothly, Pokhara airport could still meet its deadline. The Chinese-funed airport has made 60 percent physical progress as of July-end.
This fiscal year, the civil aviation authority plans to complete the extension of parallel taxiways at the Tribhuvan International Airport—in the northern and southern parts of the runway. The northern part, which is 1,400 metres long, is jointly funded by the government and the Asian Development Bank. The civil aviation authority is extending 1,000 metres in the southern part with its own resources.
The civil aviation authority this fiscal plans to replace the existing passenger services system, which is being handled by SITA (Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques), a multinational information technology company providing IT and telecommunication services to the air transport industry.
The Kathmandu airport had signed a seven-year agreement with SITA in 2011. “Budget has been allocated to appoint a new vendor for the passenger processing system. We will issue a global competitive bidding to select one,” said the airport official.
Meanwhile, the Tribhuvan International Airport has decided to replace paper strips and install electronic flight strips at the air traffic control tower. The electronic flight-progress strip system improves situational awareness, increases safety, reduces controller workload and improves the working environment, says the airport authority.

Chettri said that a significant amount of budget was allocated for the additional acquisition of land for Gautam Buddha International Airport and Pokhara International Airport and four other domestic airports — Taplejung, Biratnagar, Chandragadi and Rajbiraj.

 
 
 

 

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