[ Laos ] The country is in need of four new international airports

08 May 2017

The country is in need of four new international airports as the existing four in Vientiane (Wattay International), Luang Prabang, Savan, and Pakse will be unable to accommodate growing air traffic in the coming decades. That is what Public Works & Transport Minister Dr Bounchanh Sinthavong told the Cabinet when he presented a strategic plan on airport development. The planned expansion of the passenger terminal at Wattay International would enable the airport to accommodate about 3 million passengers a year, which would make it capable of handling growing traffic until 2028, the Minister said. The airport, which now has an apron that can accommodate 48 parked aircraft and can land as large as 350-seat aircraft, has no more space available for further expansion as it is located near the city centre. Therefore, the Government needs to build a new larger international airport outside the capital to handle the growing traffic volumes. Construction of the new airport is expected to begin in 2025 and could be completed before 2030.

The new airport will be built to accommodate aircraft as large as the B.747, Airbus 330, or equivalent. In addition, the Minister stated that a new larger international airport in southern Champassak province is also to be constructed with capacity to handle 250-seat aircraft to meet the growing needs of air transport in that region. He explained that the current international airport, which could only land 150-seat aircraft, had limited space for further expansion as it was located between the city centre and a mountain. But the Minister did not explain when construction of the new airport should start or when it is expected to be in use. Similarly, a new larger international airport in Savannakhet province is to be built in the Seno area to meet growing air transport demand, driven by enormous investment in the province’s Savan-Seno Special Economic Zone. Dr Bounchanh said the existing international airport located near the city centre had limited space for expansion. Again, the Minister did not give details about a time plan for construction of the new airport.
The Minister told the meeting the new international airport in Luang Prabang province, which opened in 2013, already experiences crowding at times within the passenger terminal. Despite this, the airport’s capacity was expected to be capable of accommodating passengers until 2023. He explained that the rapid growth of passenger numbers to the world heritage town had made the airport more crowded earlier and added that conditions of the existing location meant it could not be expanded. In addition, the Government is also eyeing the development of regional airports in Xieng Khuang and Bokeo provinces, in addition to the regional airport in Attapeu province, which was completed in April 2015. The strategic plan also spells out the need to improve domestic airports in provinces including Oudomxay, Luang Namtha, and Xayaboury, while the one in Huaphan already is under construction.

Cr. ACI World Issue 01 / 2016

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