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Bago airport plan still on, ministry says

The Myanmar government this month reiterated its desire to press ahead with the proposal to build an international airport in Bago Region, around 80km from Yangon.

Transport Permanent Secretary U Win Khant said that the Hanthawaddy airport project will be implemented with a loan from Japan.

“There are a lot of prospects for development. I believe we’d be able carry out the project with the loan from Japan,” said the permanent secretary at a press conference held in Nay Pyi Taw on June 10.

The legacy project, which was first initiated in the early 1990s, has had difficulties to secure actual investments to take off.

There were also numerous disagreements between the Myanmar government and past partners. A South Korean consortium led by Incheon International Airport Corporation won the tender that was called in 2012, which valued the project at US$1.1 billion. However, disagreements led to a fresh tender being called in 2014, which was subsequently won by a Japanese-Singaporean consortium that included Changi Airports International. That tender valued the project at $1.5 billion. The agreement expired in 2018 without construction work.

However, the National League for Democracy-led government remains enthusiastic about the idea, believing that the airport could become the main air hub for international flights.

The ministry is seeking to kickstart the project by a government-to-government agreement between Myanmar and Japan.

Government officials argue that the Yangon International Airport will reach full passenger capacity by 2020, based on the pre-COVID passenger growth rate. Therefore the new airport is a necessity, despite being 80km away from the commercial capital of Yangon.

Apart from Yangon International Airport, airports in Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay also serve international flights.

The government meanwhile is seeking to upgrade local airports in various states and regions.

A transport ministry official told this newspaper that he expects a contract to be signed in the next three months to upgrade Heho airport. The upgrade is led by KBZ Group (65 percent take), which owns Air KBZ and Myanmar Airways, and Toyota Tsusho (35pc stake), a member of the Japanese Toyota Group.

Mawlamyine airport in Mon State and Kawthaung airport in Tanintharyi Region will also be upgraded, while Chin State is set to welcome its first airport, in Falam township, this year.

Revenue in 2020 for air transport in Myanmar is set to fall because of the COVID-19 disruptions. – Translated

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Source : Myanmar Times

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