Thursday, September 21, 2017

Yangon and Bago airport projects move forward

Passengers at Yangon International Airport. Ko Taik / The Myanmar TimesPassengers at Yangon International Airport. Ko Taik / The Myanmar Times

The Department of Civil Aviation is seeking private investors to help finance an upgrade of Yangon International Airport.

The airport’s general manager, U Win Ko, said foreign firms could participate in the upgrade as a joint venture partner.

The government also plans to develop a new international airport for Yangon at Bago that is scheduled for completion in December 2016.

In the meantime, however, Yangon International Airport will be upgraded from its present capacity of 2.7 million passengers a year to 3.7 million in 2013 and five million when the upgrade is completed in 2015, U Win Ko said.

“Until the new airport is finished in 2016, Yangon International Airport will require further upgrades to handle the increasing number of passengers on international flights,” Myanmar Tourism Federation secretary U Kyaw Htun said.

One step that has already been taken to improve the flow of passengers is an increase in immigration counters.

“There are now 21 immigration counters and more will be added if space permits. … With more direct international flights starting, we hope to provide a fast and efficient service,” said U Aung Thiha, assistant director of the Immigration Department.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transport held a meeting on September 17 to discuss progress on the prequalification phase for companies bidding for a contract to build Hanthawaddy International Airport near Bago.

Construction work at Hanthawaddy began in 1993 but ceased in 2004. The government is aiming to restart the shelved project in June 2013 for completion by December 2016.

In June this year, DCA issued an invitation in state-run media for prospective local and foreign investors to participate in a selection and tender process evaluation process.

“We received prequalification submissions from both local and international contractors and are in the process of selecting the companies that will be invited to place a project bid in October. It has taken some time but we are on schedule,” DCA assistant director Daw Nweni Win Kyaw said.

The project will be implemented through either a public private partnership, a joint venture or a build, operate and transfer scheme, in accordance with Myanmar’s foreign investment laws.

U Win Ko said the new airport will be able to handle at least seven million passengers a year. However tourism experts have cautioned that transport links will need to be improved to entice international tourists to an airport 77 kilometres (48 miles) northeast of Yangon.

The government is also seeking foreign and local private-sector partners to develop Mandalay International Airport.

Successful bidders will work alongside domestic authorities to upgrade facilities – including extending the runway – at the airport, which serves Myanmar’s second-largest city and is one of three international airports in Myanmar.