Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Monday inaugurated the country’s second international airport built by China that will help connect Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha and a major tourist and pilgrimage destination, to Buddhist circuits in South Asia as well as to the rest of the world.

The USD 76 million Gautam Buddha International Airport was inaugurated on the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Purnima and also held comprehensive talks with his Nepalese counterpart Deuba to expand bilateral cooperation in multiple areas, including in hydropower, development and connectivity between the two neighbouring countries.

The new airport in Bhairahawa, 19 kilometers from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lumbini, is funded by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank and OPEC Fund for International Development but built by China’s Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group. The construction of the airport is part of China’s ambitious forays into mega infrastructure projects in the Himalayan nation.

The opening was marked by a successful landing of an international commercial flight, according to a press release issued by ADB Nepal office.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Prime Minister Deuba said the opening of the airport is an historic day in Nepal’s aviation and tourism sectors and will contribute to the country’s overall development and prosperity in the long run.

The new airport facility, which can accommodate wide-body airplanes, features a 15,169-square-metres terminal building and a new runway of 3,000 metres. Besides, an advanced Instrument Landing System will be used in GBIA, a first for Nepal, to allow aircraft landing even in reduced visibility.