KATHMANDU, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Construction of Pokhara International Airport in Kaski district of central Nepal, being developed with the Chinese assistance, is all set to begin from this weekend, a senior Nepali official said.
The airport, to be constructed in the country's premier tourist city Pokhara, is one of the three new international airports planned in the Himalayan country.
Currently, Nepal has only operating the sole international airport Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu which is overcrowded, often forcing the airlines to wait up to 45 minutes for landing particularly during the tourist season, according to TIA authority.
Pradip Adhikari, chief of the Pokhara International Airport Project, told Xinhua on Thursday that the process of contractor mobilization for the construction has begun.
"We are in the process of providing financial resources to the contractor," he said.
China Export-Import Bank has pledged a soft loan of 215.96 million U.S. dollars for the construction of the project.
As the monsoon season is underway, Nepali government officials said the contractor will start the tasks such as constructing shelter for its staffers, quarry identification, equipment shipment, hiring manpower and other temporary works during the monsoon.
"The full-fledged ground works will begin after the monsoon is over," Adhikari said.
China CAMC Engineering co. Ltd won the construction contract in May 2014 to construct the project under the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) model.
According to Adhikari, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CIAA), the executing agency of the project, is in the process of approving the design of the airport submitted by the contractor.
The airport is expected to enhance regional balance in economic development with the country having operating international airport only in the capital city in central Nepal.
"The construction of international airport in the country's key tourist hub will help increase the tourist arrivals many folds," said Adhikari.
Nepal has felt the urgent need for development of more international airports for the emergency situation like the deadly earthquake in April 2015 and to manage the increasing international air travelers.
"Airlines have to wait up to 45 minutes for landing during the tourist season because of limited space at TIA," Prem Nath Thakur, spokesperson at the TIA, told Xinhua on Thursday.