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Vientiane-Xamneua Flights to Start Next Week

Source: Vientiane Times

Lao Airlines will operate a new flight route between Vientiane and Xamneua three times a week, following the opening of Nongkhang Airport in Huaphan province after many years of delay during the course of construction.

An official at the airport, located in the provincial capital of Xamneua district, told the Vientiane Times that flights will begin on May 12. Flights are scheduled on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, with ticket prices starting at 710,000 kip.

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The flight will take one hour, which is much shorter than the 14 hours or more it takes to drive the 597 kilometres from Vientiane to Xamneua.

The first test flights recently took place to test the airport’s navigation and communication systems. The test flights took place from April 19-27 using a Super King Air Model-B300 aircraft supplied by the Thailand Radio Aviation Company AEROTHAI.

Staff at Nongkhang Airport are arranging an official handover ceremony of the facility on May 15.

The runway is 2,400 metres long and 30 metres wide. The Department of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Public Works and Transport, owns the airport.

The airport has been built in accordance with safety standards mandated by the Department of Civil Aviation and those required by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). These state that the airport should be able to accommodate 70-100-seat aircraft such as the ATR 72, Fokker 70, MA-60, and Fokker-100 or equivalent.

Construction of the airport was given the green light in June 2013 when the government, represented by the Department of Civil Aviation, signed a contract with Vietnam’s Hoang Anh Gia Lai Joint Stock Company (HAGL) worth more than US$74 million (about 616 billion kip).

Construction began at the end of 2014 but the contractor had to suspend work in 2015 after encountering financial difficulties. The airstrip was originally scheduled for completion at the end of 2016, but more problems arose and the completion date was postponed numerous times.

It is envisaged that the new airport will bring many more visitors to Huaphan, which borders on Vietnam to the east, and open up opportunities for the growth of tourism and investment in the remote northern province.  

Laos’ main airports are Wattay International Airport in Vientiane, and airports in Luang Prabang, Oudomxay, Savannakhet, Champassak, and Bokeo provinces.