Xeno Airport Project Slow To Take Off

Source: Vientiane Times

The government is planning to build an international airport at the former Xeno airfield in Savannakhet province, which has lain unused for many decades.

The airport would serve the region and accommodate the growth of foreign investment and tourism in the area.

The government gave the green light for a Singaporean company to undertake a feasibility study on the project last year, but there has been no progress for financial reasons.

A senior official at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Mr Vanpheng Chanthaphone, told Vientiane Times on Friday the company is seeking funding and partners to carry out the project.
“We are waiting for this company to conduct a feasibility study and then build the Xeno international airport,” he said.

He was unable to comment when asked whether the authorities were planning to hand over the project to another investor if the Singaporean company failed to proceed in line with the agreement signed with the government.

Head of Savannakhet province’s Administration Office, Mr Phoukhong Nammachak, said   construction of the airport was included in the province’s 2016-2020 socio-economic development plan.

“If the Xeno international airport is built, the existing international airport in Savannakhet province will be downgraded to a local airport and will handle only domestic flights,” he said.

“This airport is close to the provincial capital, so there’s not enough room to expand it to facilitate larger aircraft. If we build a new airport outside the capital, it will spur development in other parts of the province.”

Situated in Outhoumphon district, Xeno is a strategic location for an airport but the former airfield is now being used by villagers and businesspeople.

Savannakhet provincial Governor Mr Santiphab Phomvihane told Lao media recently the authorities were planning to develop infrastructure such as roads, river ports and an airport.

He said the province would draw up a plan to remove barriers to make it easier for the construction of Xeno airport.

Savannakhet is the largest province in Laos in terms of population and land area, measuring 21,774 square kilometres.

The province has 15 districts, with Kaysone Phomvihane district being the capital. Seventy percent of the land is flat, making it suitable for agriculture production for export and for industrial development.

Savannakhet province is located in central Laos, linking Laos to Vietnam and Thailand through Road No. 9 where special economic zones are established.

Due to the province’s strategic location, the government has set its sights on the development of infrastructure, particularly roads and air connectivity, to attract more foreign investment.

This year, provincial authorities expect the province’s GDP to grow by about 10 percent, generating more job opportunities and income for local people.

 

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