||The project is to improve infrastructure for the Bumthang, Gelephu, and Yonphula domestic airports. It aims to expand initial developments undertaken by the Government of Bhutan at these airports. The project is to strengthen safety and security, and enhance capacity, including priority needs for securing the airport perimeter; expanding terminal space, air craft parking apron, and taxiway; improving runways; and installing aeronautical communication and navigation aid equipment. These improvements are targeted to meet the requirements of current and anticipated aviation activities in the country, and help continue the record of safety. Overall, it will support the government's plan to develop a safe, reliable, and efficient air transport system connecting urban and rural centers to help overcome the current limitations of road transport and improve accessibility to less-developed regions of the country. This will help facilitate greater and more equitable coverage of potential benefits from tourism growth, stimulate private sector development, and generate employment opportunities for the poor.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Paro International Airport (PIA), Bhutan's only operating airport until recently and still the only one providing international air access, is located near the capital city of Thimphu in the western region. Due to the lack of domestic air connectivity, other regions of the country - particularly in the center, south, and, east - have limited access to regional and global markets. The tourism industry, for instance, a substantial economic contributor, is much better developed in the west compared with other regions. This imbalance in accessibility - to opportunity, enterprise, markets, and services - has been an obstacle to achieving broad-based economic growth, which is one of the government's major development goals.
In view of the anticipated increase in aircraft movements and passenger volume, current deficiencies must be addressed, and initial developments undertaken by the government at the three domestic airports expanded to strengthen safety and security, and enhance capacity. The project will include (i) improving air operation safety by providing required air rescue and firefighting system facilities, aeronautical communication and navigation, and runway drainage; (ii) strengthening security with an airport cordon around the perimeter; and (iii) expanding capacity for terminal space, aircraft parking apron, and taxiway. The improvements were prioritized based on development needs identified in updated master plans for the three airports, projected traffic forecasts in terms of peak hour aircraft movements and passenger volume, as well as updated assessment of current developments and priorities for air transport in the country. By improving safety, security, and capacity at the three domestic airports, the project will help ensure operation of aircrafts with adequate capacity for continued passenger traffic growth and improved service and safety.
The project and its outcome is consistent with the strategic objective set out in the interim country partnership strategy, 2012-2013: to assist the government in achieving broad-based economic growth. It will enhance the country's air transport connectivity, help improve access to regional and global markets throughout the country, and support tourism growth in less-developed regions. The project is included in the Bhutan country operations business plan, 2012-2014.