PRIA built with 22 billion debt: When will airport earns back the funds invested ?

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) is all set to operate the Pokhara Regional International Airport (PRIA) from the first day of the English New Year (January 1, 2023).

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” will inaugurate the the airport. The inauguration will be followed by the Prime Minister’s address on the occasion.

Top leaders of various political parties including Prime Minister Prachanda will attend the inauguration of the airport in Pokhara on January 1.

Earlier, the then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had laid the foundation stone of the airport on April 13, 2016.

About 22 billion has been invested for the construction of Pokhara International Airport. The construction of the airport has been completed almost 7 years after the foundation stone was laid. The Ministry of Finance had taken a concessional loan from China’s Export-Import (Exim) Bank for the construction of the airport. At that time, it was said that the complete construction would cost 21.47 billion.

Exim had given 75 percent loan and 25 percent subsidy. The government has already started paying the bank loan taken at 2 percent interest rate. The airport has been built on an area of about 4,000 ropani. It is considered as an alternative to Tribhuvan International Airport. However, due to the geography of this place, it is said that large jet planes will not take off and land.

Narrow-body aircraft like Airbus A-320 and Boeing 757-200 series can take off and land at the airport. These aircraft have the capacity to carry less than 200 passengers. The runway of the airport is 2,500 meters and the width is 45 meters and the thickness of the runway is 34 cm. The airport has the capacity to handle 610 passengers per hour during peak hours.

As the airport is all ready, the peoples interest has turned to how would the airport earn back the funds invested there. Former finance secretary Rameshwar Khanal has said that if we can increase the number of tourists than the present, investment will be raised within 9 years.

Khanal said that the airport is important from the point of view of the country’s economy. Pokhara is a hub for domestic tourists. If it can be connected with other cities, it will be economically viable even from Nepalese tourists,” he said. “If the number of tourists increases as per the hypothesis, it will generate an income of 1 billion per year.

Experts suggest that the number of tourists should be increased in Pokhara for the investment to yield returns.

Director General of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, Pradeep Adhikari says that investment in Pokhara Airport is not that expensive. ” Initially it was discussed that the airport should not be built as its going to be too expensive. Looking at the cost analysis, Pokhara Airport required less cost than in comparision to Gautam Buddha International Airport,” he said. “Cement concrete has been used in the construction of 14 buildings and runways. It has a lot to be proud of”.

In Pokhara, the capital of tourism, the flight closes after 4 o’clock. That’s why it is very necessary for the airport operation even at night, he said. Furthermore, he said. “This airport will help not only the economy of Pokhara, but also the economy of the country.” With the completion of the construction, many foreign airlines have shown interest for the first flight at the airport.


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