As businessmen and tourists line up to visit Burma, old Yangon International Airport is showing its 50-plus years, and the government has started a search for investors to build a second international airport to relieve the pressure.
The proposal is to build a modern airport at Bago, 50 miles from Rangoon, on the site of a Japanese-built airport from World War II, according to state-run media. Construction would start in June 2013 and be completed in 2016, said an official.
"The Ministry of Transport would like to cooperate with local and foreign investors for the development of Hanthawady International Airport, and for upgrading and modernizing some other domestic airports," the Air Transport directorate said in an announcement. Under the proposal, the airport would cover 9,000 acres (3,642 hectares), an area nine times the size of Yangon International Airport, said Tin Naing Tun, the head of the Civil Aviation Department.
In 1994, construction of a new airport was started on that site, but work stopped in 2003. However, 80 per cent of the earthwork has already been completed, said reports.
Rangoon’s current airport can handle 2.7 million passengers a year, although only 1.45 million passed through in 2011, according to the Transport Ministry.
Burma currently has international airports in the administrative capital, Naypyitaw, Mandalay, in central Burma, Rangoon and in Nyaung Oo.
"Passenger and flight arrivals at all international airports are increasing speedily, especially at Yangon International Airport," a senior ministry official said.
Rangoon will reach its full capacity in terms of handling flights and passengers by the end of this year," said an official.
Fourteen international airlines fly into Yangon. At the Yangon airport, only 17 planes can park at the airport at the same time, according to civil aviation Deputy Director Nweni Win Kyaw.
Naypyitaw’s international airport was inaugurated in December 2011. Located 16 kilometers south of Naypyitaw, it can handle up to 10 million passengers a year, officials said. The airport was partly designed to accommodate events such as the Southeast Asian Games and Asean summit to be hosted in Naypyitaw in 2013 and 2014.
On May 24, Mizzima reported that Burma is making a major push to earn more income from tourism. Officials said about 1,500 tourists arrived each day in Burma’s four international airports, an increase of about one-third in the past year. Tourist arrivals are expected to reach 1.5 million in 2012.
According to statistics of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, the number of tourist arrivals amounted to more than 800,000 in 2011, up more than 24,000 or 3 percent from over 790,000 in the same period of 2010. Since then, the country has embarked on a major revision of its laws designed to open up the country to the international business community.
In June, the government said it would begin issuing visas-on-arrival and business visas starting accommodate businessmen and foreign travelers.