Gelephu airport to be ready within a month

Aviation: With the completion of the terminal building at Gelephu airport, scheduled flight operations can commence once the certification process is over.

The terminal building was handed over to Department of Air Transport (DAT) last week.

DAT officiating director Karma Wangchuk said that the certification process which would be done by the Bhutan Civil Aviation Authority will not take more than a month and once the certification is over the airport will be opened for scheduled flight operations.

“It is mandatory to do a certification as certification is like a license to run a business,” he said.

He added that the construction of footpath is still going on and it would just take around two weeks which will complete before the certification is over and and that will not hamper operation of the airport.

Karma Wangchuk said that once the certification process is over they would be informing the airlines and scheduled flights would take place as per their commitment.

Information and communications Minister, DN Dhungyel said that even if the terminal building is complete it is not decide which airlines would be flying to the domestic airport.

“Drukair wanted to operate only on Baatpalathang’s airport in Bumthang and the option would not be provided,” lyonpo said.

He added that if both the airlines want to fly on domestic airport, they will not be given choice in fact they have to fly on all the domestic airports.

“If drukair desires to fly on domestic airports they have to operate in all the domestic airports or they can withdraw from the operation,” lyonpo added.

Lyonpo said they are waiting for the Drukair’s submission and they are going to decide who will be operating on domestic airports.

The government initially planned to construct quarters for army personnel so that they can be permanently based on site, budget constraints has delayed this plan. It was estimated that up to Nu 90M might be required.

The need for an army camp was deemed necessary since the area is a security sensitive zone.

Dasho Kinley Dorji in an earlier interview said that such an arrangement should be acceptable as there may only be one flight a week. He added that if the frequency of flights increases then construction of security quarters would be pursued again.

While a terminal and ATC building already exist at the airport, a new one had to be constructed as the first one was found to be located too far from the runway. The previous building is located 480m away from the runway.

The two infrastructures were constructed at a cost of Nu 2.5-3M while the new one is costing Nu around 8.9M. The Asian Development Bank is funding the construction. Gelephu airport, constructed at a cost of Nu 225.3M was inaugurated in 2012.

By Yeshey Dema, Gelephu

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