A Bangkok Airways jet parks at Wattay International Airport in Vientiane. Laos plans to build a new, bigger airport farther from the capital. (File photo by Boonsong Kositchotethana)
The Lao government will sign an agreement with Lao and Chinese firms to launch a feasibility study into a new airport site for Vientiane, a Lao official said.
Director-general of the Civil Aviation Department Yakua Lopangkao said a memorandum of understanding on the project will be sealed this month, the Vientiane Times on Wednesday quoted him as saying. The names of the companies were not disclosed.
Once completed, the new international airport, which will be built about 35 kilometres south of the capital, will take over the gateway role to Laos from Wattay International Airport.
Mr Yakua said the feasibility study would take at least two years. If the government approves it, it will take at least another five years for construction, he added.
Laos previously eyed a location about 18 kilometres from Vientiane for a new airport but a South Korean firm suggested in a study in 2008 that it was too close to residential areas.
Located just three kilometres from downtown Vientiane, Wattay handles 1 million passengers a year and the department expects to see 2 million travellers passing through the airport by 2023.
The official said the new airport would be bigger as Laos expects more airport users after the Asean Community becomes established.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations will launch the Asean Community in late December.