Myanmar’s Yangon International Airport reveals growth plans

Myanmar’s Yangon International Airport is to be further upgraded to better equip it to accommodate more international traffic.

Operator, Yangon Aerodrome Company Limited (YACL), has also revealed that it is stepping up its marketing efforts in a bid to develop its international route network.

The announcements come despite the airport admitting that it is likely to close 2018 with the slowest growth rate in air passenger traffic for five years.

Yangon International Airport (YIA) welcomed its five millionth passenger of 2018 last week and is on target to handle around six million passengers (+2.5%) by year-end.

However, over the past five years, passenger numbers at YIA – by far the busiest of Myanmar’s three international airports – has increased at an average of 8.6% per year.

YACL says that while tourist arrivals from Asian markets continue to grow in 2018, those from European and North American markets appear to have been impacted by international media reports on domestic Myanmar issues.

“While there has been a slowdown in visitor growth, we have continued to expand YIA’s capacity and capability while intensifying efforts to open up new markets,” says YACL’s CEO, Ho Chee Tong.

“We are confident that, in partnership with all the relevant stakeholders in the tourism industry, the community and the Myanmar government, 2019 tourist air passenger traffic will surpass that of 2018.

“As the investor and operator of Myanmar’s main international airport, we have a responsibility to enhance infrastructure while striving to deliver a high level of safety, security and service. YIA is the gateway to Myanmar and it is important that we deliver an outstanding experience for tourists and business travellers.”

YACL took over YIA’s operation and management in October 2015 under a Public-Private Partnership tender from Myanmar’s Department of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The agreement is for 30 years of operation, with an option to renew for a further 20 years (10+10).

Based on the estimated six million arrivals in 2018 and the significant investments to date, YIA is currently operating well below its design capacity.

New additions to the airport’s infrastructure include an Airport Operations Control Center (AOCC); Revamped Apron A to allow eight positions for A320 and B737 types or 10 positions for propeller aircraft; two taxiways expediting runway vacancy; 30 new check-in counters at T1; five new baggage claim belts; and new lounges and F&B outlets.

“We have and continue to improve infrastructure, safety and efficiency processes,” says Jose Angeja, who was appointed chief operating officer of YACL in November 2017.

“YIA can now handle wide-body aircraft including B777-300ER and A350. The current capacity will allow YIA to meet foreseeable growth needs for many years to come even with a single runway operation.

“With further enhancements, innovation and technology upgrades, YIA has the potential to increase the capacity much further.”

Angeja notes that the number of aircraft movements per annum at YIA has increased from 62,937 in October 2015 to 77,000 currently (+1.2%), but that this was still way below the totals handled at some of the world’s major single runway gateways such as Xiamen in China with 192,000 or Mumbai–Chhatrapati Shivaji in India with 320,000.

Based on current capacity and international standards, subject to clearance for arrivals and departures by Myanmar’s Air Traffic Control, YIA believes that it has the potential to operate up to 170,000 movements per year (or 19 movements per hour compared to an average of eight currently).

“We are enhancing infrastructure, safety, technology, service levels and most importantly, the skill sets of Myanmar staff who will be YIA’s leaders of tomorrow,” adds Angeja.

“YIA is a living organism that offers a first-time experience of Myanmar for tourists. It is the gateway to Myanmar and to the city of Yangon, and we strive to deliver a compelling user experience.”

As a result, over the next two to three years, YIA will further enhancement its infrastructure with the addition of another parking apron capable of handling up to 13 Code C aircraft (Boeing 737); a new rapid exit taxiway; the construction of maintenance hangars and a new Fire-Rescue Station; and reconstruction of the old Terminal 2 to include technological upgrades.

Today YIA is served by 31 airlines – the latest new arrival being China’s Sichuan – which between operate services to 29 international and 28 domestic destinations.

“We are committed to the continual development of YIA. Beyond launching more routes and taking steps to improve our facilities and operations, we plan to work with global airlines and tourism boards to drive growth for Myanmar’s leading airport,” adds Ho.


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