YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar is looking for investors to develop a second international airport for the commercial capital, Yangon, on the site of an old Japanese-built air strip from World War Two, state media said on Thursday.
Yangon’s existing airport was one of the busiest in the region in the late 1950s, before successive military governments made the country an international pariah.
It is bustling again, but may soon be struggling to cope with an influx of tourists and business travelers as a 15-month-old government opens up the country to the outside world.
“The Ministry of Transport would like to cooperate with local and foreign investors for the development of Hanthawady International Airport, and for upgrading and modernizing some other domestic airports,” the Air Transport directorate said in an announcement.
Hanthawady would be built on a disused airfield near Bago town, about 50 miles north of Yangon.
A South Korean firm had planned to build an airport there but the project was abandoned in 1994, soon after a ground-breaking ceremony, for obscure reasons. Designs for that airport show it would be able to handle 10 million people a year.
Yangon’s current airport, which was renovated in 2007 and looks modern in comparison with many of the neglected buildings in the city, can handle 2.7 million passengers a year, although only 1.45 million passed through in 2011, Transport Ministry figures show.
Myanmar also has international airports in the administrative capital, Naypyitaw, and Mandalay.
“Passenger and flight arrivals at all three international airports are increasing speedily, especially at Yangon International Airport,” a senior ministry official said.
“The new international airport for Yangon is essential since the present Yangon International Airport will have reached its full capacity in terms of handling flights and passengers by the end of this year,” said the official, who declined to be identified.
Fourteen international airlines fly into Yangon. Four more would be flying in soon and some existing ones wanted to increase their flights, the official said.
Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Alan Raybould and Robert Birsel