Oct 28, 2012

Myanmar says main airport needs urgent upgrade

Yangon International Airport will exceed its limit of 2.7 million passengers this year, prompting Tin Naing Tun, head of the Department of Civil Aviation, to warn it needs "upgrading urgently."

Hidden from the world for decades under a brutal military junta, the Southeast Asian nation has seen an influx of tourists and business travelers in recent months, attracted by a swathe of changes under a new reformist regime.

"We estimate 1.7 million international passengers this year. Adding the 1.1 million average local passengers for 2012... we will receive 2.8 million passengers this year," added Nweni Win Kyaw, an assistant director at the civil aviation department.

Airlines are already battling congested flight schedules and leaving passengers stuck in the terminals when slots are missed, he added.

The department urged local and foreign firms to work as part of a joint venture or a consortium to upgrade Yangon airport, adding it could hand over operations at the hub from May next year.

Plans for a new international airport have already been put forward. The proposed site will be nine times bigger than Yangon Airport and about 50 miles (80 kilometres) from the centre of the city, the country's commercial hub.

Work is expected to start in June 2013, with the airport set to become operational in 2016.

Source: AFP