With the exponential boost of tourism in Myanmar, the government is planning to offer up contracts to expand and operate approximately 39 regional airports in the country later this year. The airports include those serving growing tourist destinations, like Heho near Inle Lake, Nyaung-U at Bagan, and Thandwe near Ngapali beach, but also planned economic hubs like Kyaukphyu and Dawei.
The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has planned to call tenders from local and foreign firms to upgrade 30 domestic airports. “It will take at least two or three months to prepare to invite investors,” said Kyaw Soe, director of the Department of Civil Aviation’s (DCA) Aerodrome Standard and Safety Division. The DCA said the latest tender will go out asking for companies to invest in improving airports and operate them as public-private partnerships.The tender follows the awarding of deals to operate the Yangon International Airport and Mandalay’s airport, given to a subsidiary of Myanmar-owned company Asia World and Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation, respectively.
There is however some doubt whether the private sector will bring the help needed to update the country’s crumbling smaller airstrips.The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is currently working on a “survey,” which will feed into a government transport master plan. Japan last year initiated a US$12 million project to upgrade safety at the country’s six biggest airports with new communications and navigation equipment.
That should facilitate business and tourist travel across Myanmar’s vast distances, which would in theory help spread economic growth around.