Qatar has approached the Government of Nepal about the construction of an estimated $1.2bn international airport project in Nijgadh, Nepal.

The Gulf nation wants to bolster its presence in Southeast Asia and China after the boycott of various Arab countries in June 2017, according to The Kathmandu Post.

The site for the proposed airport is located 175km from Kathmandu in the southern plains of Nijgadh.

It will feature a 4km-long runway and serve as an alternative to Tribhuvan International Airport, which is currently the only airport in the country.

A source was quoted by the publication as saying that Nepalese and Qatari governments ‘are in talks’ to build a new international airport in Nepal.

The Nepalese government has not yet received any formal proposal from Qatar, but senior officials at the ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal suggest ongoing discussions could yield results soon.

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By GlobalData
“We have dispatched necessary documents regarding the current status of the project to the Qatar government through its embassy here.”

A senior official told the Post: “The issue has been discussed at the highest levels. We have dispatched necessary documents regarding the current status of the project to the Qatar government through its embassy here.”

“If things go as planned, prime minister KP Sharma Oli may visit Qatar in April-May to sign the agreement.”

Nijgadh airport was one of the points on the agenda during president Bidya Devi Bhandari’s visit to Qatar last October.

“Since the discussion is in its preliminary phase, the financial modality is not clear yet. It could be a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) model or something else,” the source added.

“But one thing is clear, the government may award the project through a government-to-government deal.”

The government approved environmental impact assessment report suggests nearly 2.4 million trees will have to be cut to make way for the construction of an international airport in Nijgadh.

In 2016, UK-based WGP Global along with project partner Uniel Holdings expressed interest to design, construct, finance and manage the airport.

The Malaysian government has also proposed to develop the project.