Myanmar airport up for grabs again

A consortium led by Singapore's Changi Airport Group will rejoin the bid for a US$1.1-billion contract to build a new airport near Yangon after the original South Korean winner failed to meet the Myanmar government’s specifications, The Myanmar Times reported on Sunday, quoting a senior Department of Civil Aviation.

The South Korean Incheon Airport consortium won the tender for the contract to build Hanthawaddy International Airport in Bago region in August 2013.

The Singaporean group, Yongnam Holdings Ltd and Japan's JGC Corporation were also selected as a backup.

However, the Department of Civil Aviation department was reported to have recently invited the Singaporean group to "re-enter the negotiations" because of problems with Incheon's proposal, the official said on Feb 5.

The Korean group has been pushing to change certain aspects of the project, including the operating capacity of the airport, a planning official close to the project has said.

"We recently invited Yongnam to re-enter negotiations but it doesn't mean we cancelled the proposal submitted by Incheon Airport consortium ... We want to also see the proposal from the Singaporean consortium," he told The Myanmar Times.

On Feb 4, Yongnam said in a statement that its consortium had been asked to enter negotiations on the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the airport, to be built under a public-private partnership with a 30-year concession period.

The Hanthawaddy contract was the largest of three awarded on Aug 10 to private companies by the Ministry of Transport.

Located on a 9,000-acre site about 77 kilometres (48 miles) northeast of Yangon near Bago, Hanthwaddy was first slated for development in the early 1990s. Work began in March 1994 but stopped in October 2003.

The airport will be capable of handling up to 10 million passengers a year, well above Yangon International Airport's current capacity of 2.7 million.

The project has drawn mixed reviews from industry experts, who heralded efforts to build a modern airport in Myanmar, while also criticising Hanthawaddy for its inconvenient location.

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