Contract to upgrade Heho airport expected to be signed this year

A contract to upgrade the air hub serving Inle Lake and Taunggyi to provide customs, immigration and quarantine facilities will be inked this year, a senior official says.

“We are expected to sign a contract in the next three months,” an official from the Ministry of Transport and Communications who declined to be named told The Myanmar Times, adding that negotiations to upgrade Heho airport are underway.

Heho airport, located in Kalaw township, southern Shan State, is the gateway to Shan’s capital Taunggyi as well as the major tourist destinations of Inle Lake and Kalaw. The upgrade is estimated to cost US$40 million and to be completed within two years..

When upgraded, the airport will accommodate custom agencies, immigration authorities and facilities for infectious disease control officials to operate, paving the way for it to serve international flights. It is also expected to be able to serve A319 and B737- 800 aircrafts, on top of ATR-72/500, Embraer-190 and Y-8 aircrafts, which it currently serves.

The upgrade is led by KBZ Group (65 percent take), which owns Air KBZ and Myanmar Airways, and Toyota Tsusho (35pc stake), a member of the Japanese Toyota Group.

Myanmar has three airports which are connected to international flights, based in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. Mawlamyine airport in Mon State and Kawthaung airport in Tanintharyi Region will also be upgraded to boost regional development as well as improve accessibility, according to the civil aviation department. These two projects cost $20 million and $36 million respectively.

The push to modernise regional airports is meant to improve tourism and ease the transport of goods and movement, thereby strengthening trade and attracting investors to put their money in those states and regions.

The Shan State government has said that it is negotiating with two countries to connect Heho airport with direct flights from Thailand and China. Thai officials have also indicated an interest in launching short-haul flights between Thailand and Heho, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bagan as well as Myeik in the southern tip of Myanmar.

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Source : Myanmar Times

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