Department to call for tenders to upgrade three domestic airports

The tender call invites developers who are interested to upgrade the infrastructure projects through a public-private partnership (PPP) system, U Ye Htut Aung, deputy director general of DCA told The Myanmar Times.

Public-private partnerships between a government agency and private-sector company can be used to finance, construct and operate projects, such as night markets and public road networks.

The DCA will announce the tender submission date and details through state-owned newspapers. Then, the department will provide instructions to those potential applicants who have expressed an interest before the tender opening, he added.

“We intend to upgrade Kawthaung, Mawlamyine and Heho airports, so they can transform into major domestic airports. But that requires a lot of investment.

“Hence, we will discuss with developers and discussions will start from an initial stage.

“The capacity of airports depends on how much investment the infrastructure can receive,” U Ye Htut Aung said.

The Tanintharyi regional government plans to improve Kawthaung airport to a standard of an international airport.

This would be pivotal in driving the booming tourism industry for the region, U Kyi Hlaing, Tanintharyi’s regional minister of transportation and electricity told The Myanmar Times.

“We do not have the estimated budgets from the Union government for Kawthaung airport project yet.

“The project depends on the government budget but we’d apply for more resources from the government.

“With more sources, it’d be possible for the airport to become as competitive as other international airports,” he said.

Tanintharyi Region has three airports – Myeik, Dawei and Kawthaung. It is about a 90-minute flight from Yangon to Kawthaung.

Ministry of Hotels and Tourism statistics show that 346,586 tourists landed at Kawthaung airport and 360,835 tourists visited Tanintharyi in 2016.

Up to April this year, more than 130,000 tourists had arrived at Kawthaung and 140,847 in the entire region. Thus, among the three airports in Tanintharyi, Kawthaung dominates.

Kawthaung airport is able to accept charter flight arrangements with airports from 48 countries after the airport upgrade. Those airports abroad have already signed agreements with airlines operating in Myanmar, U Ye Htut Aung said.

“It is no easy task to upgrade the Kawthaung infrastructure to that of an international airport.

“Currently, the airport cannot cater for landing schedule flights.

“We need not only investments but also infrastructural support, in terms of technical expertise and human capital, in order to upgrade the airport,” he said.

They should really scale up the airport upgrade for Kawthaung. Introducing more charter flights from foreign regions and countries will not be sufficient. The airport needs to accommodate schedule flights in the region, U Kyaw Min Htin, executive member of Myanmar Tourism Marketing committee told The Myanmar Times.

“We understand that international long-haul flights will require a lot of investment. But the airport should also accommodate schedule flights, at least for regional flights.

“This will connect the area with the neighbouring regions and be a boost for regional tourism,” he said.

In May, a Tanintharyi tourism development committee, operating under the tourism ministry and chaired by local tycoon Serge Pun, is seeking assistance from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for the upgrade of infrastructure in Myeik archipelago to boost sustainable tourism, a committee member told The Myanmar Times.

They will invite international investors who are interested in the Myeik tourism industry and its infrastructure development, U Yan Win, chair of Myanmar Tourism Federation told The Myanmar Times.

“The Tanintharyi tourism development committee will also invite investors from other countries. We will always accept people if they invest according to the law.

“The government has already opened up places such as Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan for tourism investment. According to the ASEAN economic policy, people can feel free to invest if they want to,” he explained.

In June 2017, Tanintharyi’s tourism development committee told The Myanmar Times that the IFC will lend a helping hand in the upgrade of Kawthaung Airport to boost regional tourism.

He added that the airport cannot make a profit but it can support economic growth in the region.

Union tourism minister U Ohn Maung said at a recent ASEAN Tourism Forum that his ministry had conducted ground checks at Kawthaung and agreed to an upgrade.

Source: Myanmar Times

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