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Extension to Wattay International Airport Planned

Source: Vientiane Times

The government is planning to expand Vientiane’s Wattay International Airport to meet the growing need for passenger air transport, a senior government official has said.

The airport is now handling about 1.8 million passengers a year, which already exceeds the figure of 1.5 million predicted for 2020, Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport Dr Santisouk Simmalavong told Vientiane Times recently.

If the planned expansion of Terminal 2 goes ahead, the airport will be able to process 3 million passengers a year.

If developed to full capacity, “Wattay International Airport is expected to be able to accommodate passengers until 2040,” Dr Santisouk told Vientiane Times, adding that an even larger international airport would be needed in Vientiane after 2040.

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A team of experts from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is currently conducting a survey for the planned expansion.

The government is also negotiating with the Japanese side concerning a request for funding to finance the project.

A timeframe for the start of construction and other aspects of the project is unavailable as the survey has not been completed, according to the minister.

The existing terminal was recently extended with support from the government of Japan and opened for public use in August last year.

The enlargement project included expansion of the international passenger terminal to about 13,500 square metres, renovation of an area of 3,300 square metres, construction of a domestic passenger terminal measuring 7,200 square metres, construction of temporary facilities for the domestic terminal measuring 1,000 square metres, and construction of a 500 sqm maintenance workshop.

An official report noted that in 2014 Wattay International Airport handled 690,000 international and 300,000 domestic passengers. But by 2023 the airport is expected to process 1,510,000 international and 460,000 domestic passengers.

Minister of Public Works and Transport Dr Bounchanh Sinthavong said previously that the number of passengers could rise to 3 million by 2028.