Singaporean group bags $1.5bn Myanmar airport after South Korean consortium departs

A $1.5bn contract for Hanthawaddy International Airport, outside the Myanmar capital of Yangon (formerly Rangoon), has been awarded to a Singapore-led consortium, Myanmar’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has announced.

The winning consortium is made up of Singapore’s Yongnam Holdings, Changi Airport and the JGC Corporation (formerly the Japanese Gasoline Corporation). 

Hanthawaddy is the largest of three airport projects planned for Myanmar in an attempt to modernise its airport infrastructure.

The contract was originally let to a consortium led by Incheon International Airport Corporation of South Korea in August 2013 but the tender was reopened in February when irreconcilable differences arose over how the contract would be developed.

The main sticking point was the size of the airport, according to officials from the DCA. They said Incheon wanted to build an airport able to handle 10 million passengers a year, whereas the DCA wanted able to handle 12 million. There were also problems with the funding route for the facility.

Myanmar officials are understood to be in talks with the Japan International Co-operation Agency to cover part of the construction cost. The project’s completion date has been pushed back from 2016 to December 2019.

The Singaporean consortium, as well as another led by Vinci, had been selected as backups to the Incheon group. They were asked in March to resubmit proposals, after which the Singaporean consortium was selected.

Hanthawaddy will be located on a 3,600ha site about 77km northeast of Yangon. The project has been criticised for its distance from Yangon and the poor quality of the road that links it with the capital. 

A consortium led by Pioneer Aerodrome Services, a subsidiary of Asia World, was selected in August 2013 to overhaul Yangon International Airport and increase its capacity from 2.7 million to 6 million passengers a year by 2015. Work on the domestic terminal has already started.

Meanwhile, a consortium comprising Mitsubishi, Japan Airlines and SPA Project Management were selected to overhaul Mandalay International Airport, which opened in 2000 but until recently was operating at well below capacity with few international flights.

Photograph: A Boeing 737 at Yangon International Airport. All of Myanmar’s airports are to be modernised (Nelson48/Wikimedia Commons)

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