Bhutan: Air Transport Connectivity Enhancement Project

Sovereign Project | 44239-013 Status: Active


ADB is helping Bhutan upgrade three domestic airports, Bumthang, Gelephu, and Yonphula, to enhance their capacity, safety, and efficiency. The project will include expanding terminal space and aircraft parking areas, new perimeter fencing, air rescue and firefighting services, navigational and communication aids, and drainage and flood protection systems.

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Project Name Air Transport Connectivity Enhancement Project
Project Number 44239-013
Country Bhutan
Project Status Active
Project Type / Modality of Assistance Grant
Source of Funding / Amount
Grant 0295-BHU: Air Transport Connectivity Enhancement Project
Asian Development Fund US$ 6.92 million
Strategic Agendas Inclusive economic growth
Regional integration
Drivers of Change Governance and capacity development
Sector / Subsector

Transport - Air transport

Gender Equity and Mainstreaming No gender elements
Description 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.

Impact Improved air transport connectivity.

Project Outcome

Description of Outcome Improved safety, security, and capacity at three domestic airports in Bumthang, Gelephu, and Yonphula.
Progress Toward Outcome Detailed Design and Supervision Consultant engaged in September 2012 and commenced services in October 2012 and are so far performing satisfactorily. All civil works in Gelephu and Bumthang domestic airports have been completed in April 2015. Remaining works in Yonphula are expected to be completed in October 2016.
Implementation Progress
Description of Project Outputs Improved infrastructure at three domestic airport in Bumthang, Gelephu, and Yonphula.
Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)

Contract was awarded on 7 February 2014 for Bumthang perimeter security fence, new access road, apron and taxiway, and car park. The works were completed in April 2015.

All works done in April 2015: installation of perimeter security fence, runway drainage and flood protection work, and a terminal building with basic passenger facilities.

Works ongoing, with completion targeted in October 2016; some delay expected due to the monsoon rains.

Geographical Location

Safeguard Categories

Environment B
Involuntary Resettlement C
Indigenous Peoples C

Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects

Environmental Aspects

As the works and installation of equipment for the project will be improvements within the boundaries of existing airport facilities already developed by the government, the anticipated environmental impacts are low. Therefore, the project is classified category B. In accordance with ADB's Safeguard Policy Statement (2009), necessary due diligence of the environment impacts for the existing facilities previously developed by the government has been carried out. In this respect, the Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) includes a section on the review of environmental impacts and mitigation measures taken during construction of the existing facilities, as well as recommendations for continued and improved actions during the implementation of additional improvements under the project. Anticipated environmental impacts include occupational health and safety issues, generation of dust and noise and drainage problems. These can be addressed during the detailed design and construction phase through appropriate design and mitigation measures recommended in the environment management plan. Typically for airport projects, the main long term impact is the generation of noise, vibration, and air pollution during operations. In addition to complying with applicable international standards, appropriate landscaping and greenbelt development in each of the airport area has been recommended to help minimize the impacts.

DCA needs to further strengthen overall institutional capacity, including the area of environment safeguards. While needs are assessed (footnote 2), DCA's Project Director will serve as the overall environment safeguard coordinator for the project. The project coordinator for each airport will serve as the site-level focal point for environment safeguards. The design and supervision consultant team will include an environment specialist for updating the EMP and monitoring contractor's compliance. During implementation, training and coordination workshops on environment safeguards and EMP implementation will be conducted for DCA, consultants, and contractors. Annually, environmental monitoring reports will be prepared and submitted to ADB for disclosure on the ADB website, as required by the ADB's Safeguard Policy Statement (2009) for environment category B projects. As required by ADB's Safeguard Policy Statement (2009), the IEE report has been disclosed.

Involuntary Resettlement The project has been reclassified as category B in accordance with ADB's Safeguard Policy Statement (2009). Acquisition of private land from one household totalling 0.67 acres encompassing 100% of the total plot size will be required for the Gelaphu subproject. One Resettlement Plan has been prepared in accordance to government and ADB policy. The affected household is entitled to a fair compensation and that they are given the option of choosing substitute land replacement or cash payment or both as compensation. In this case, the affected household has opted for land for land substitution located within the same block (geog) and of the same size.
Indigenous Peoples No impact on indigenous people is envisaged as there will be no physical or economic displacement. Therefore, the project is classified category C.
Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
During Project Design Consultations with communities residing in and around the airport sites have been carried out, and the details of consultations, feedback received, requirements for further consultation and grievance redress mechanism have been included in the IEE report.
During Project Implementation The EA, ADB and consultants will continue to hold consultations with communities around the project sites to ensure that the Project's objectives are realized.

Business Opportunities

Consulting Services All consultants will be recruited according to ADB's Guidelines on the Use of Consultants.
Procurement All procurement of goods and works will be undertaken in accordance with ADB's Procurement Guidelines.

Responsible Staff

Responsible ADB Officer Tomoaki Kawabata
Responsible ADB Department South Asia Department
Responsible ADB Division Transport and Communications Division, SARD
Executing Agencies
Ministry of Information and Communications
[email protected]
Government of Bhutan,
Thimphu, Bhutan


Concept Clearance 05 Nov 2010
Fact Finding 27 Jan 2012 to 11 Feb 2012
Approval 21 Jun 2012
Last Review Mission -
Last PDS Update 19 Sep 2016

Grant 0295-BHU

Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
21 Jun 2012 06 Aug 2012 20 Aug 2012 31 Dec 2016 - -
Financing Plan Grant Utilization
Total (Amount in US$ million) Date ADB Others Net Percentage
Project Cost 7.60 Cumulative Contract Awards
ADB 6.92 21 Jun 2012 6.94 0.00 100%
Counterpart 0.68 Cumulative Disbursements
Cofinancing 0.00 21 Jun 2012 4.88 0.00 70%

Safeguard Documents See also: Safeguards

Safeguard documents provided at the time of project/facility approval may also be found in the list of linked documents provided with the Report and Recommendation of the President.

Evaluation Documents See also: Independent Evaluation

None currently available.

Related Publications

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