Aviation: The deadline for the completion of the Yonphula domestic airport in Kanglung, Trashigang has been deferred until March next year.

The airport is expected to be operational starting April 2017 according to Department of Air Transport (DAT).

Due to some technical issues the Yonphula airport, which was supposed to be completed by October this year, was delayed. Heavy rainfall in the month of July at the location also added to the deferral.

DAT director Karma Wangchuk said that most of the works on the airport has already been completed except for the blacktopping of the runway.

He said that the blacktopping was not possible during this time of the year mainly because of the harsh weather conditions, adding that a minimum temperature of five degree Celsius is required while laying the blacktop.

“The work was delayed because we could not compromise on the quality of the runway by working during unfavourable weather,” said Karma Wangchuk adding that Asian Development Bank (ADB) consultants had also advised to continue the work only after the weather improves.

The director said that the work will resume midway February and will be completed by March next year. He added that no major additional cost implications would occur because of the delay except for some supervisory part.

The airport, which was closed in 2013, is being renovated to improve safety features and compliance with international standards. One of the major changes being carried out is on the realignment of one half of the runway.

Another major change is flattening and resurfacing the runway. The slope of the runway, which was 3.8 percent, has been brought down to below two percent, which is acceptable by international standards, said Karma Wangchuk.

The changes to Yonphula airport is being funded by ADB under the Air Transport Connectivity Enhancement project. A total of USD 6.9 million has been provided to improve all three domestic airports.

A further USD 4 million has also been earmarked by ADB to supplement the project if required.

Younten Tshedup