Pokhara Airport Debt: Nepal asks China to convert Loan to Grant

Mar 21, 2024

Kathmandu (Nepal), March 20 (ANI): Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal announced on Tuesday that diplomatic efforts have been initiated with China to convert a loan for Pokhara International Airport to a grant as it failed to garner income, instead piled up more debt. This came after opposition lawmaker Chanda Chaudhary raised questions about the increasing loss and piling debt, Nepal Prime Minister said that talks are underway to convert the loan into a grant. The Pokhara International Airport, which opened on January 1, 2023, hasn’t seen any frequent international flights except for chartered Chinese flights, which appear on rare occasions. On March 21, 2016, Nepal and China reached a loan agreement stipulating a total loan amount of 1.37 billion Chinese yuan, out of which 355.9 million Chinese yuan were constituted as interest-free- loans. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the aviation regulating body of the Himalayan nation, is responsible for paying the loan amount by the year 2036. Days before the inauguration of the airport last year, the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal claimed in a tweet that the airport was a part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which was rejected by the Nepal Government. Nepali officials have reportedly requested that China convert the loan into a grant due to the airport’s financial challenges, a matter discussed during Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s visit to Beijing in late September.