Myanmar is not kidding around with its plan to welcome international visitors – after committing half a billion dollars to develop its tourism industry, the country announced plans for a new international airport project, which will cost $1 billion, and is set to be completed in December 2017.
By 2020, Myanmar is projected to host 7.5 million tourists annually, a figure far larger than the country’s current infrastructure is prepared to handle. As such, Myanmar is planning to invest heavily to build new airports and add to existing ones.
The Hanthawady International Airport will be located in Myanmar’s central Bago region, covering an area of 9,690 acres, according to Bernama, Malaysia's national news agency.
Bago is a historical region of Myanmar with sights dating as far back as the eighth century, and has been popular with tourists.
The project, which will be implemented starting September, is now in the bidding stage. Just seven of the 30 companies who were interested in investing in the project were selected based on their financial strength, experience, personnel skill and equipment resources.
Four of these pre-qualified companies – Korea’s Incheon Airport Consortium, Yongram-CAPE-JGC Consortium, France’s Vinci Airport and Japan’s Taisei Corporation, submitted formal bids for the project.
Among the bidders, Vinci Airport operates three airports in Cambodia, the second poorest country after Myanmar in Southeast Asia, including one in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.
Taisei Corp. built Iloilo International Airport in the Philippines as well as a number of bridges and other projects in Thailand and Vietnam.
Incheon Airport Consortium, aside from operating Incheon Airport, which has been consistently rated as the best airport in the past, has also submitted a bid to build an airport in the Philippines.
A winning bid will be selected in July, and the winner will begin the project in September, according to Bernama.
The airport will have an annual passenger capacity of 12 million, expandable for up to 35 million passengers if necessary, and will be designed to accommodate Airbus A-380 and cargo plane.
The airport will represent the latest foreign investment in Myanmar, after Norway’s Telenor and Qatar’s Ooredoo each submitted bids for and won the coveted telecommunications licenses in Myanmar, which has made efforts to open up its economy since the new democratic government took over in 2011.
Last year, more than 1.06 million tourists arrived in Myanmar. Some 600,000 came by air.
Myanmar currently has three existing international airports – Yangon International Airport, Mandalay International Airport, and Nay Pyi Taw International Airport.
Yangon International Airport, located near the country’s capital city of Yangon, will be upgraded to accommodate 6 million passengers per year, up from the 2.7 million passengers now.
Yangon Airport saw nearly 500,000 visitors in 2012, and that number is expected to reach 6 million in 2017.
The Hanthawady International Airport project was first approved in 1996, but the Malaysia-based company selected failed to implement the project.
In addition to the three international airports, Myanmar also has 29 regional airports, serving a total of 24 international and seven domestic airlines, Bernama reported.