Paro international airport yesterday inaugurated four structures — modified departure terminal building, cargo building, the relocated substation, and a parallel taxiway worth Nu 440.45 million (M).

The structures were part of a project worth about Nu 800M funded by the Government of India. The project began in the 11th Plan.

Arrival terminal building worth Nu 359.375M was completed in 2015.

Information and Communications Mminister DN Dhungyel, Nidhi Dhiman from the Embassy of India, foreign secretary, and information and communications secretary attended the ceremony.

With the modified departure terminal building, the airport is expected to accommodate about 720 passengers, twice the capacity of the previous building.

Department of Air Transport’s director, Karma Wangchuk, said that the old terminal building had just one departure gate. The new one has three.

He added that with one departure gate, the terminal building could accommodate only two aircraft at a time. “The old terminal building had congestion issues.”

The check-in counters will be increased from 12 to 18. Additional immigration counters will also be put in. Additional space has been identified for automatic check-in system for the airlines counter and immigration.

“The departure terminal building will be operational within this week. For the parallel taxiway, we are processing for certification of the taxiway way with the civil aviation authority,” Karma Wangchuk said.

The substation at the airport was relocated to create more space for vehicle parking.

“Now we have ample room and have enough capacity for another 30 years. We should be quite comfortable. We still have more room for expansion. We are concentrating on the safety, standards, and services today,” Karma Wangchuk said.

The aviation industry today employs more than a 1,000 people.

Lyonpo DN Dhungyel said that in 2017 Paro International Airport handled over 314,069 passengers who flew on 6,294 flights; 671 domestic flights carried more than 11, 974 passengers.

The ceremony was part of the celebration of the 50 years of diplomatic relations between India and Bhutan.

Phurpa Lhamo  | Paro