Seven international companies responded to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN)’s tender notice and submitted proposals to develop the second phase of Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa.
The second component worth Rs800 million comprises the installation of communications, navigation and surveillance (CNS) and air traffic management (ATM) systems at the national pride project.
Project director Pradeep Adhikari said there were Chinese, Spanish and Canadian companies among the bidders. The tender notice published on September 20 gives potential bidders 65 days to submit their technical and financial proposals. The last day for the submission of proposals was Sunday.
The duration of the second phase of the project is nine months from the day the contract is awarded. According to Adhikari, the financial proposals of the bidders will be opened only if they pass the technical evaluation. The contract will go to the lowest bidder.
“It will take a few weeks to complete the bid evaluation.” After the contract is awarded, the company will be given a few months to make preparations, Adhikari added.
The project is divided into four phases: installation, testing, commissioning and flight calibration of navigation and communication systems. The government had planned to commence commercial operations of the airport by August, but due to delays in the implementation of the second phase, it has been pushed back to the end of 2019.
The project plans to open the airport’s runway for domestic flights by March. Workers are currently laying the first layer of asphalt on the 3,000-metre-long and 45-metre-wide runway.
According to the project, the airport will be equipped with an Instrument Landing System (ILS) which allows approach and landing even in poor weather conditions. There are different standards of ILS, namely CAT I, CAT II and CAT III. Aircraft can land at the airport under the CAT I system when visibility is 550 metres. Under CAT II, planes can land when visibility is 350 metres. Initially, CAAN had planned to install CAT II, but it dropped the idea due to its high cost. The project has now decided to install CAT I with a system that will allow it to upgrade to CAT II when desired, according to project officials. CAAN awarded the Rs6.22-billion upgradation contract to China’s Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group in November 2013. The airport was initially slated to be ready by December 2017. However, fuel and building material shortages due to the months-long Tarai banda in 2015 delayed the upgradation works by six months, and its operation deadline was revised to June 2018.
Subsequently, a dispute over payment between the Chinese contractor and the Nepali sub-contractor (Northwest Infra Nepal) stalled works at the construction site for more than six months. As a result, the project deadline was extended many times after the initial extensions.