A Chinese survey company is keen to upgrade the airport in Xieng Khuang province with the aim of developing it as a hub for a regional air transport service, a provincial leader said on Thursday.
The development of the airfield is key to catering to a possible boom in the tourism industry if UNESCO approves Laos’ submission to declare the ancient Plain of Jars as a World Heritage Site.
The government has applied to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to consider the site for the listing.
The Chinese survey firm is ready to carry out the construction work and act as a coordinator to help the Lao government access loans from a commercial and industrial bank in China, provincial Governor, Mr Bounton Chanthavone, told Vientiane Times on Thursday.
Surveys for upgrading the airport have been completed by Chinese and Russian companies. The Prime Minister’s Office has assigned the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to consider these studies to assess the techniques, standards and reasonable costs for the project.
The planned construction will focus on expanding the runway, and improving all safety systems and passenger facilities.
Mr Bounton said according to the initial survey, the project will cost about US$80 million.
Once upgraded, the airport will be able to accommodate bigger aircraft such as Boeing 747.
The existing airport has been designed for use by the army and commercial flights.
Another Chinese company is conducting a feasibility study for building an international airport on the Bolaven Plateau in southern Champassak province.
Improving the air transportation sector is a top priority for Xieng Khuang to support the robust growth of local economy and domestic production and supplies, and to promote tourist destinations in the north.
Xieng Khuang has several attractive tourist sites, some of them linked to ancient Lao history and others that are more recent, such as those related to the Indochina War. One of them is the famous yet mysterious Plain of Jars that people from around the world find amazing.
Another site is Tham Piew Cave in Kham district, where 374 local people were killed by a missile fired by imperialist aggressors during the Indochina War.
Mr Bounton said the weather in Xieng Khunag province is very good and it is not necessary to use fans or air conditioners during the dry season, an important factor in wooing tourists.
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