Myanmar Authorities See New Hanthawaddy Airport Completed Before Government’s Term

The leading committee on the construction of the Hanthawaddy Airport held its first meeting at the Ministry of Transport and Communications in Nay Pyi Taw at the end of the year, reported the official website of Myanmar President.

Speaking at the meeting, Vice President U Henry Van Thio, chairman of the leading committee, stressed the need for ensuring transparency and systematic implementation of the project. He also pledged that the project would be implemented during the time of the incumbent government, considering it a national project. The first phase will take five years to complete and will cost USD2 billion.

“On completion of building the international airport, it will become a major gateway for international airlines to use and operate their businesses. So it will be implemented as a national project, thus the need for transparency for the public,” the Vice President said.

The Vice President stressed the need for respective ministries and regional and state cabinets to take part in the discussions about official development assistance loans (ODA), potential difficulties, water and power supply, the upgrading the current roads linking with the airport, the ownership of the project area registered under the name of the Department of Civil Aviation and the relocation of populations living within the project area to designated places.

Under the current situation, Yangon International Airport has been experiencing many difficulties — inability to expand the current runway and lack of parking space for aircraft, noise problems around the clock for those living in the area as well as the obligation of sharing slots and facilities with the air force based also at the airport.

“ The need for more passenger planes and cargo planes is likely to increase in the near future. We then must continue to abide by safety standards prescribed by international civil aviation organizations. It is consequently urgently needed to construct a high-quality airport for international passenger and cargo aircraft,” said U Henry Van Thio. The airport will then become the main gateway to the country for international airlines.

Hanthawaddy International Airport project will then be an essential airport for the future that will help to the development of Myanmar’s economy. It is a project based on PPP system (Private-Public Partnership), tendered in 2012, he added. it will be 60 km away northeast of Yangon. It will then 90 minutes away from the former capital and linked by tollways to town. A rail line will also be planned bringing total travel to 45 minutes. The initial capacity for the airport is set at 12 million passengers a year. Yangon current airport receives some six million passengers in a year.

Myanmar has a long-term policy to establish the airport as an alternative gateway to Southeast Asia from points in Europe. The flight duration from European destinations is around one hour shorter than for Bangkok. More regional flights will also be developed to connect intercontinental services to ASEAN destinations.

In the same meeting Union Minister U Thant Zin Maung clarified the need for an expansion of international airports, consultation with respective ministries for cooperation and preparation, followed by explanations of U Min Lwin, Director-General of the department of civil aviation, who emphasized the need for an additional airport in Myanmar.

Once finished, Hanthawaddy Airport will take over from the current Yangon International Airport. The old airport might however continue to welcome limited domestic and regional flights as the future airport might reach saturation just two years after its expected completion in 2022.