Myanmar to build new airport

YANGON, 4 June 2012: Myanmar is looking for investors to develop a new airport near Bago that ultimately lead to the phase out of Yangon Airport as the main gateway.

AFP reported earlier this week, arrivals at Yangon International Airport are expected to surge to around 3 million in 2012, a 22% increase on last year . That would put the airport  over its 2.7 million threshold, according to the Department of Civil Aviation.

“We need a new airport because of increasing traffic at the current airport… is quite difficult to handle,” said DCA assistant director, Nwe Ni Win Kyaw.

The planned Hanthawaddy airport will be on a site nine times bigger than the current facility and located about 80 km from downtown Yangon, the country’s main commercial centre. The site was identified by the fminitary junta three years ago as the replacement for Yangon’s airport, which has limited space to expand.

Work is expected to start in June 2013, with the airport operational by 2016.

Veiled from the world for decades under a brutal military junta, the Southeast Asian nation has seen an influx of tourists and business travellers in recent months, attracted by a swathe of changes under a new reformist regime.

Arrivals in Yangon — including both domestic and international passengers — surged to 1.53 million in the first half of 2012, more than the number that passed through the airport in the whole of 2008.

The city’s current airport, which sees the vast majority of Myanmar’s overseas air traffic, is also slated for expansion, allowing it to cope with the 5.4 million visitors expected in 2015.

“But 5.4 million would be the highest limit we could deal with,” said Nwe Ni Win Kyaw.

Myanmar has two other international airports, in Mandalay and in the capital Naypyidaw, but they are not fully operational.

The new airport plan is part of a larger scheme by the DCA to ultimately privatise all the country’s airports.

There are currently 14 international and six domestic airlines flying from Yangon airport and six new foreign carriers are in discussion with the DCA about operating in the country.

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