VIENTIANE, 18 January 2017: National airline Lao Airlines has ended flights between Vientiane and Attapeu as ticketing revenue failed to reach a breakeven point for the airline.
Vientiane Times quoted the airline’s Commercial and Marketing Department deputy director, Oudom Souvanthong, saying the airline cancelled the flights during the last quarter of 2016, because passenger traffic was well below earlier forecasts.
Lao Airlines offered a twice weekly service from Vientiane, via Pakse International Airport in Champasak province, to Attapeu province’s so-called international airport, last May, and increased frequency to three weekly services last July.
“Right now the airline cannot confirm when regular services will resume, but we still plan to provide charter flights,” the deputy director added.
Lao Airlines operates a domestic network and serves Cambodia, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and South Korea, from its home-base at Wattay International Airport in Vientiane.
The closure of the Vientiane-Attapeu sector means that domestically Lao Airlines now flies from Vientiane to six provinces; Luang Namtha, Oudomxay, Luang Prabang, Xieng Khuang, Savannakhet and Champasak.
Attapeu International Airport was officially opened in May 2015. The airport was handed over to the Lao government by Vietnam’s Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group (HAGL), which funded construction through an interest-free loan of more than USD36.1 million.
The airport is located in southern Laos and was the third international designated airport after Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Paksi in Champassak province. However, very few tourists visit Attapeu and there is limited potential for commercial travel.
Located in Xaysettha district, about 26 km from Attapeu provincial capital, the airport’s runway is 1,850-metre long and 30-metre wide and can accommodate 70 to 100-seat aircraft such as ATR-72 and Fokker aircraft.
A 4,300 sqm terminal, is designed to accommodate up to 300 passengers per day.