Construction of an international airport in Tonpheung district, Bokeo province, is now 75 per cent complete, with the facility expected to open for domestic use by the end of this year and for international travel soon afterwards.
The new airport is being built to handle an anticipated surge in the number of tourists to the area, especially people visiting the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone, which contains a number of recreational facilities and attracts visitors from China.
The new airport is located close to the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone and covers 300 hectares. It will be the second airport in Bokeo province in addition to the existing small airport located in the provincial capital, Huayxai district.
Project Director Dr Hongkham Oudomchit said construction was initially scheduled to take 18 months but work was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Construction began in September 2020, since when a runway, taxiway and a parking lot have been built. The passenger terminal, control tower and other buildings are set to be complete by the end of June.
From June to October, communication systems, CCTV cameras and other facilities will be installed, as well as the air traffic control system.
“All aspects of construction are now 75 percent complete and the project will be finished by the end of this year,” Dr Hongkham said.
The construction cost of US$175 million is being financed by the Hong Kong-based Greater Bay Area Investment and Development (HK) Limited, which is a member of the Dok Ngiew Kham Group.
The airport will be operated under the Build-Operate-Transfer model and the developer has been granted a 50-year concession.
It will be larger than the existing airport in Huayxai district, which can handle only small aircraft.
An official from Laos’ Department of Civil Aviation, Juexiong Jongya, said the new international airport in Tonpheung district was designed to accommodate much larger aircraft including the Boeing 747 and Airbus 320.
The airport will open for domestic travel at the end of this year and for international flights at a later date, he said.
The passenger terminal can handle up to 600 people and when fully operational is expected to accommodate 1.5 to 2 million passengers a year.
Laos’ main airports are Wattay Airport International in Vientiane and smaller airports in Luang Prabang, Oudomxay, Savannakhet and Champassak provinces.