ATTAPEU, 3 June 2015: The new Attapeu International Airport opened, Saturday, with officials promising to build tourism and trade links.
The airport is located in southern Laos and only the second to be designated for international flights along side Champassak.
Vientiane Times quoted Lao President Choummaly Sayasone saying the new airport was part of the government’s policy to develop transport and communications infrastructure in Laos.
Most of the development is done through foreign aid and loans led by China. But this instance it was a Vietnamese corporation that provided the loan and constructed the facility.
Attapeu International Airport was handed over to the Lao government, 30 May by Vietnam’s Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group (HAGL), which funded construction of the facility through an interest-free loan of more than USD36.1 million.
Vietnamese President, Truong Tan Sang, said the airport would help to link Vietnam, Laos and Thailand and facilitate the growth of trade and tourism.
Construction of the airport began in May 2013 and was completed last month.
The airport is located in Xaysettha district, about 26 km from Attapeu provincial capital. The runway is 1,850-metre long and 30-metre wide and can accommodate 70 to 100 seat aircraft as well as ATR-72 and Fokker aircrafts. They have very little freight capacity.
The airport also includes a 4,300 sqm terminal, capable of serving 300 passengers per day.
Lao Airlines will consider operating two flights weekly between Vientiane and Attapeu, the report added.
The two flights will make a stop at Pakxe International Airport in Champassak province on the return leg to make the route more viable. Attapeu and Champassak airports are about 200 km apart.
The new airline route Vientane and Attapeu is good news for traders, who have to spend almost two days travelling by bus to the capital on poorly maintained roads.
Of the four southern provinces of Champassak, Saravan, Xekong and Attapeu, only Champassak and Attapeu have an international airport.