Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Myanmar reboots troubled airport tender

Yangon — Myanmar is relaunching a tender to build a second international airport near its main city after the winning South Korean bid hit problems funding the $1.5 billion project, a senior aviation official said Monday.

The country has temporarily suspended the bid from a consortium led by South Korea's state-run Incheon International Airport Corp (IIAC) to construct the Hanthawaddy International Airport on the outskirts of Yangon, according to Tin Naing Tun, director general of Myanmar's civil aviation department.

"We have no issue with the technical side (of the bid) -- the company has a lot of experience. But we had some difficulties while negotiating the financial part," he told reporters at the first Myanmar Civil Aviation Development conference in Yangon.

After discussions with the two leading bidders, the government had decided to act as a guarantor for loans up to half the cost of the project and would relaunch the tender, he said -- without giving details of the issue with the South Korean bid.

Myanmar, which is hoping to reclaim its status as a regional air hub after nearly half a century of junta-imposed isolation, says it needs to ease the pressure on Yangon's current airport, which has seen a surge in foreign arrivals in step with the country's opening-up.

Yangon International Airport currently has a capacity of only 2.7 million passengers annually, although official data said it handled 3.7 million people in 2013.

Hanthawaddy International -- to be located about 50 miles (80 kilometres) northeast of downtown Yangon -- is projected to handle about 12 million passengers a year.

Yangon International airport was considered one of the most modern aviation hubs in the region at the end of British colonial rule over six decades ago, with direct flights from European destinations.

But the country lost its position to regional neighbours as visitors dwindled during military dictatorship, which formally came to an end in 2011.

"Whether you say it's our expectation or our dream, we will put infrastructure and strategic plans in place to get our position as an aviation hub back in 2030," Tin Naing Tun said.

He insisted that the Hanthawaddy project would go ahead, with the four original bidders asked to resubmit proposals under the new financial arrangements by April 22.

source: AFP
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