Pokhara, located in western Nepal, is one of the country's most popular tourist destinations and the new airport – which will have separate domestic and international terminals – is expected to provide a major boost to tourism.
Nepali Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Rabindra Adhikari, laid the foundation stone marking the start of construction of the terminal buildings which are expected to complete within a year.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the new airport will have a 10,000sqm international terminal and a 4,000sqm domestic terminal and initially be capable of handling up to one million passengers per annum.
Financed by a $215 million loan from the EXIM Bank of China and being constructed by China CAMC Engineering, Pokhara Regional International Airport will be located three kilometres from the city’s existing gateway and also serve as an alternative gateway to Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport in the event of an emergency.
Local papers quote Adhikari as stating that work on the airport’s 2.5 kilometre long runway capable of handling aircraft such as B737s, A320s and B757-200s would begin in August/September 2018.
"The works are moving ahead smoothly as per the set timetable, and the airport will be brought into operation by July 2021,” Adhikari is quoted as stating.
Pokhara Regional International Airport is one of the three new international airports being built in Nepal, whose only international gateway is in the capital city of Kathmandu.