The first major airport, Surbung airport in Falam Township, in Chin State will be opened in September 2020

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The first major airport, Surbung airport in Falam Township, in Chin State will be opened in September 2020

Surbung Airport in Falam township, Chin State, the first major airport in the state, will open in September 2020, said U Ye Htut Aung, Deputy Director General of the Department of Civil Aviation.

Construction of the K 30 billion airport, which began in 2016-17, had originally been scheduled for completion in 2021-22. Last month though, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint gave instructions for construction to be completed in 2020 and for the airport to begin operating in September. 

To complete the project within the deadline, more funds will be needed. “We currently have a budget of K5 billion a year. Another K10 billion will be needed to complete the project on time. We need to ask the ministry for the funds,” U Ye Htut Aung said.  

So far, construction of the airport runways, terminals and facilities has taken place. An additional budget will be required for equipment, flight control systems, runway lights and so on, he said.

The construction of the airport is being carried out across 1289 acres of land in Falam. The runway is expected to be about 2000 metres feet in length. 

There are nine townships in Chin State. However, it is hard for people to move within the state due to the lack of reliable transport infrastructure. In the monsoon season, for example, landslides and floods make it almost impossible for some people to travel. Meanwhile, those who need to travel interstate or internationally must find their way to Kalay in Sagaing Region, where the nearest airport is located.

“As such, we are building an airport in Falam to make things easier for the people of Chin State,” U Ye Htut Aung said.

Importantly, the number of tourists visiting Chin State, which is home to Myanmar’s heart-shape Rih Lake and Nat Ma Taung National Park, should also rise once the airport is complete. Notably, as many Chin people are Christians, more western visitors are expected to come.

Despite its prospects for tourism, Chin State remains one of the least developed and poorest states in Myanmar due the lack of transport and infrastructure. 

“When the construction of the airport is done, Chin State will be accessible from Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon within hours. As such, the tourism sector will develop faster,” said Salai Isaac Khen, former Chin State Development, Transportation and Tourism, Electricity and Industrial Minister.

The regional government is also making plans to open smaller airports in Tiddim, Tonzang, Falam and Hakha townships. Meanwhile, a small airport in Matupi township with a 1000m runway, which was built with support from the UK, will be launched on March 6, he said. 

(The Myanmar Times: )


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