Hantharwaddy airport priority for govt

THE planned Hantharwaddy International Airport is the only priority in the area of aviation under the National League for Democracy-led government, said U Win Khant, permanent secretary of Ministry of Transport and Communications.

He made his comments in relation to the government’s Transport Master Plan during the sideline interview with The Myanmar Times at Myanmar Global Investment Forum. The event was organised by Euromoney on September 12 and 13 in Nay Pyi Taw.

The concessional agreement negotiations with the bidding winners is expected to be concluded towards the end of this year and the project is to be completed within five years following the agreement, U Win Khant added.

“This is the major priority for the Transport Master Plan. We will focus on this airport project under this government term.

“Due to the capacity of the Yangon International Airport, we will need the new one within five years, according to calculations made by the minister and Department of Civil Aviation [DCA],” he said.

The three existing Kawthaung airport in Tanintharyi Region, Mawlamyine airport in Mon State and Heho airport in Shan State are going to be upgraded through a public-private partnership (PPP) system, but the lack of proper PPP policy and guidelines is a major problem, he added.

Public-private partnerships between a government agency and private-sector company can be used to finance, construct and operate projects, such as night markets and public road networks.

The Yangon International Airport’s optimal capacity is 2.7 million passengers but it already served 3 million passengers in 2013, he went on.

Overcapacity for Yangon airport

The potential for the existing Yangon airport to expand is limited and it can no longer accommodate the increasing number of aircrafts. Hence, the government needs to construct a new airport to cater for the growing demand.

The DCA, in the last week of October 2014, declared Singapore-based Yongnam-CAPE-JGC consortium as the winning tender for the construction of the Hantharwaddy Airport, which can accommodate up to 12 million passengers a year.

The department had hoped to commence construction in 2016 and expected to begin operations in 2022 at an estimated cost of US$2 billion (K2.72 trillion).

The Yongnam consortium allocated $1.44 billion for the investment and the Myanmar government aims to invest $222 million. The DCA seeks to source the balance of the financial support through loans from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and other international institutions.

The airport is slated to be built on an old Second World War Japanese airfield of 9690 acres (3921 hectares) in Kyauk Taing Kan village in Bago Region, around 77 kilometres (48 miles) northeast of Yangon. Myanmar has been trying to build the airport for two decades, but delays have plagued the project.

The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) revived the project a few years ago and called for tender, choosing seven companies. In 2013, the MIC chose Incheon Airport consortium as a primary tender and Yongnam-CAPE-JGC as a secondary tender. But the government ultimately selected the latter as the project’s developer.

At another panel session, the permanent secretary said that the Hantharwaddy project is the only aviation priority for the administration.“For the aviation sector, we only have one mega project, which is the new Hantharwaddy International Airport.

“But we are still in the middle of the negotiation process because many things need to be discussed in more details with the bidder winners,” he said. He added that the new airport needs both rail and road access to Yangon city.

“It will be immensely difficult for the new airport to work if there is no road or rail to access Yangon city. It is useless for the airport to be there in that case,” he said.

Despite Hanthawaddy International Airport’s distance from the city, the consortium predicts its project will serve as a hub that connects Myanmar’s commercial capital with the world.

In July, Andrew McNaughton, the UK Prime Minister’s Business Ambassador for infrastructure, told The Myanmar Times that the immediate priority would be developing the airports in both Mandalay and Yangon.

“In the airport sector, the immediate focus would be support for the development of the Mandalay International Airport and the new Hanthawaddy International Airport in Yangon,” he said. Mr McNaughton also said that there is a planned railway connection between the city and the new airport.

Source: Myanmar Times

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