Data analysis: Regional airport upgrades and passenger traffic

The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) under the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) has called a tender for the following airport upgrades and staff housing constructions: 

  • Nyaung U Airport

  • Nyaung Mon Airport

  • Khamti Airport 

  • Kalay Airport

  • Mongsat Airport

  • Kyaukphyu Airport 

  • Naypyitaw International Airport

  • Bhamo Airport

  • Loikaw Airport

  • Man Aung Airport 

  • Dawei Airport    

  • Bokpyin Airport

Tender documents can be obtained from 4 November at the DCA Tender Management Committee office in Mingalardon Township. Bids will be due on 2 December, 16:00. The full tender can be found here.

The government has been pushing to upgrade regional airports, as it is thought that better regional connectivity can spur commercial activity and tourism throughout the country. 

Below, Myanmar Transport Infrastructure Monitor analyses DCA passenger and aircraft traffic data at the airports. 

Nyaung U (Bagan) Airport

Tender information


Paving nylon asphalt

  • Runway 259.08mx30.48m
  • Apron 335.28mx91.44m + 121.92mx182.88m

Nyaung U Airport is located in Nyaung-U, Mandalay Region, and is the second busiest airport after Heho Airport among domestic-only airports. It is the primary air gateway to the temples of Bagan.

In recent years, a number of international airlines have expressed interest in flying to the airport, though this is thought to be opposed by local airlines that have a monopoly on the destination.

On 11 December 2019, the airport became a custom aerodrome that can receive international flights.

The airport is to be upgraded ahead of the launch of direct flights to Siam Reap in Cambodia as part of a Buddhist package tour. The pre-feasibility study for the Nyaung U Airport upgrade was completed in April this year.

In late January, Vice President U Henry Van Thio and Union Minister for Transport and Communications U Thant Sin Maung inspected the Nyaung U Airport customs, immigration and quarantine facilities upgrade. Myanmar Airways International executives were also present, suggesting it will be the airline that operates the flight. 

The airport has one asphalt surface runway measuring 2,591mx30m, which can only handle small aircraft. 

In 2019, aircraft movements corresponded with the tourist season in Myanmar. Arrivals and departures start to fall in March when the hot season begins, and stays low into the monsoon season. They then start to rise again in October as the weather improves. 

In 2019, the airport saw 134,420 domestic passenger arrivals and 153,185 departures, respectively, with a total of 8172 aircraft movements. It did not handle any air freight.

The fame of Bagan’s temples will mean there will be demand for international flights to Nyaung U, and tourists will be willing to pay a premium to fly there directly.

The nearest international airport in Mandalay is four hours away, and tourists short on time may opt to fly directly to Nyaung U for convenience.  

Using only charter flights from Siem Reap as part of a Buddhist package initially appears to be the right step by targeting a group of tourists that would be willing to spend a premium on such flights. It will also provide an opportunity to gauge demand for such routes. 

Any future expansion of Nyaung U Airport to accommodate more flights will be limited and only small aircraft will be permitted to land there given its proximity to Bagan’s temples that were given UNESCO World Heritage Status in July 2019.

Given this limited room for expansion, an upgrade at the currently closed Pakkoku Airport could be on the cards. The airport is located 32km northeast of Bagan.

Kyaukphyu Airport

Tender information


Layering and paving double seal coat 

  • Runway 2,286mx30.48m

Interior upgrade for airport terminal building (30.48mx12.19m) 

  • Extension of building 6.1mx12.19m
  • Other upgrade work includes windows, doors, ceiling, painting, and other mechanical and electrical engineering works

Kyaukphyu Airport in Rakhine State is being upgraded ahead of the development of the $1.5bn Kyaukphyu SEZ, which will comprise an industrial zone and deep-sea port. 

In August, it was reported that the government had allocated Ks500m ($366,635) towards repairing and upgrading the airport. 

According to DCA data, in 2019, the airport saw 19,574 passenger arrivals and 21,235 departures at an average of 1,631 and 1,770 per month, respectively. 

It also saw a total of 2,170 aircraft movements at an average of 181 per month and handled 112.681 tonnes of air freight.

The airport upgrade is expected to boost the profile of the Kyaukphyu SEZ and help attract international interest and investment in the zone.  

As work gets underway and components are completed at the Kyaukphyu SEZ, passenger traffic is likely to increase at the airport as workers or business executives travel frequently to the zone. 

Khamti Airport

Tender information


Fencing project

  • Piling with 12.7cmx12.7cm reinforced concrete posts
  • Installation of 1.52m chain link
  • Fencing with 22.86cm thick brick

Khamti Airport, also known as Hkamti or Kanti Airport, is located in Khamti District in Sagaing Region and nearby to Hpakant Township. At present, Myanmar National Airlines, Air KBZ and Air Thanlwin operate at the airport. 

The airport mainly supports resource extraction in Sagaing, notably for jade mining in Hpakant.

It currently features:

  • 30.48mx15.24m terminal buildings that can accommodate 140 passengers

  • A 1828.8m runway that was extended between FY2002/03 and FY2008/09 at a cost of Ks3.8bn ($2.8m) 

A Ks3.2m ($2,350) budget was allocated in July for airport upgrades, in addition to a Ks158m ($116,175) budget for the fencing project.

The specifications of the upgrade were not clarified, however, there is no plan to construct new terminal buildings. 

A Ks3.8bn ($2.8m) runway extension was carried out between FY2002/03 and FY2008/09, when the runway was lengthened to 6,000ft from 4,000ft.

Aircraft movements and passenger traffic at the airport had steadily risen since 2011, before slightly declining in 2017 and then leveling off.

In 2019, the airport saw 14,955 passenger arrivals and 14,369 departures at an average of 1,246 and 1,197 per month, respectively. 

It also saw a total of 590 aircraft movements at an average of 49 per month and handled 8.97 tonnes of air freight.

Passenger traffic at the airport is unlikely to grow greatly at the airport in the coming years, however, upgrades are still considered necessary to bring it up to modern standards.

Kalay Airport

Tender information


Layering and paving seal coat 

  • Runway 2133.6mx30.48m

The airport is located on a 112.4 acre site in the centre of Kalay Township, Sagaing Region. The airport serves daily flights to Mandalay and Yangon via Mandalay.

Only medium-sized 100-seat planes can be accomodated. Twin-engine turboprop 48-seat planes are commonly used at the airport. In addition to serving Sagaing Region, the airport sees significant traffic from those traveling to and from Chin State, which does not yet have an airport in operation.

In February, it was reported a terminal building upgrade valued at Ks212m ($140,000) was underway. Local company Htet Ar Kar is upgrading the terminal building.

The upgrade is to expand the airport terminal from 36.58mx18.29m to 36.58mx36.58m.

In 2019, the airport saw 36,432 passenger arrivals and 36,175 departures at an average of 3,036 and 3,015 per month, respectively. It also saw a total of 1,440 aircraft movements at an average of 120 per month and handled 58.59 tonnes of air freight.

With the opening of Surbung Airport in Chin State, demand for flights to and from Kalay may soften slightly in the coming years.

Mongsat Airport

Tender information


Layering and paving seal coat 

  • Runway 762mx15.24m
  • Apron 121.92mx60.96m

Full terminal refurbishment 

  • 30.48mx12.192m terminal

Mongsat Airport, also known as Mong-Hsat Airport, is located in Mong-Hsat District of Shan State. It serves trade at the Tachileik-Mae Sai border. 

In 2019, the airport saw 4,834 passenger arrivals and 5,001 departures at an average of 403 and 417 per month, respectively, with 224 aircraft movements at an average of 19 per month. It did not handle any air freight.

Passenger numbers are in the hundreds per month and the airport upgrades are likely due to necessary maintenance.

The border point, however, is increasingly important for bilateral trade, particularly in agricultural goods, and a slight uptick in passenger traffic may be seen in the coming years.    

Loikaw Airport

Tender information


Staff housing 

  • One storey unit 30.48mx12.19m
  • Rooms: 5
  • Reinforced concrete

The airport is located 2km northeast of Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State, and is used year-round. The airport services flights to Yangon, Naypyidaw and Mandalay operated by Air KBZ and flights to Yangon operated by Myanmar National Airlines (MNA).

In November 2018, the Kayah State Government announced it intended to upgrade the airport into an international airport. As part of the plan, the existing 2133.6m runway will be upgraded to 3048m to accommodate 68-tonne aircraft. In July 2020, a transaction advisory services EOI was called to develop the airport.

In 2019, the airport saw 21,741 passenger arrivals and 22,560 departures at an average of 1,812 and 1,880 per month, respectively, with 1,006 aircraft movements at an average of 84 per month. It also handled 1.114 tonnes of air freight.

Loikaw in the Karen hills is a popular tourist destination, and upgrading the airport is part of the state’s plans to promote tourism in the area. It is unlikely to be designated as a custom aerodrome at present, however, state officials will be hoping airport upgrades will help to achieve this goal. 

Dawei Airport

Tender information


Staff housing 

  • One storey unit 30.48mx12.19m
  • Rooms: 5
  • Reinforced concrete

Dawei Airport services Dawei in Tanintharyi Region in southeastern Myanmar. 

The airport has one runway with a concrete surface measuring 3,661.5mx30m, which can accommodate Lockheed C130 aircraft that typically have a capacity for 92 passengers.

In 2019, the airport saw 48,559 passenger arrivals and 49,681 departures at an average of 4047 and 4,140 per month, respectively, with 3,899 aircraft movements at an average of 325 per month. It also handled 18.468 tonnes of air freight. 

Dawei Airport is underdeveloped and efforts to upgrade the airport have been stalled in recent years due to allegations of corruption in preliminary upgrade works. 

The DCA is now pushing to get an upgrade underway, and in July 2020 called a Transaction advisory services EOI to develop the airport under a PPP scheme. 

Further efforts to get the upgrade underway will likely be seen if development at the proposed Dawei SEZ gets underway, which should drive passenger traffic in the years to come. 

Bokpyin Airport

Tender information


Staff housing 

  • One storey unit 30.48mx12.19m
  • Rooms: 5
  • Reinforced concrete

Bokpyin Airport is located in Tanintharyi Region, at the southern tip of the Myeik archipelago. 

In 2019, the airport saw 1,065 passenger arrivals and 1,042 departures at an average of 89 and 87 per month, respectively, with 166 aircraft movements at an average of 14 per month. It also handled 26.586 tonnes of air freight. 

Future development plans will depend on efforts to promote tourism in the area. 

Bhamo Airport

Tender information


Staff housing 

  • One storey unit 30.48mx12.19m
  • Rooms: 5
  • Reinforced concrete

Bhamo Airport, also called Banmaw Airport, is located in Kachin State in northern Myanmar. It serves the Muse-Ruili border point.  

In 2019, the airport saw 12,092 passenger arrivals and 11,972 departures at an average of 1008 and 998 per month, respectively, with 526 aircraft movements at an average of 44 per month. It also handled 26.59 tonnes of air freight.

Passenger traffic is steady year-round, and passenger growth will depend on increasing trade at the Muse-Ruili border. 

Manaung Airport

Tender information


Staff housing 

  • One storey unit 30.48mx12.19m
  • Rooms: 5
  • Reinforced concrete

Manaung Airport is located in Rakhine State. In 2015, the airstrip was expanded to 1219.2mx30.48m for F-27 Fokker aircraft, with only 1127.76m of the airstrip being upgraded to an asphalt concrete surface.

Flights to Manaung are routinely suspended between May and October due to poor weather, as the airport can only handle small aircraft.

From January to May 2019, the airport saw 1,476 passenger arrivals and 1,566 departures from 266 aircraft movements and 910 arrivals and 356 departures from 156 aircraft movements from October to December 2019. It also handled 28.058 tonnes of air freight throughout the year.

The Manaung Public Company and First Myanmar Investment (FMI) plan to develop Manaung into a tourist destination.

In February 2019, the JV received an endorsement from Rakhine State Investment Committee for a Ks6bn ($4m) hotel zone. Progress at the zone has not been disclosed. Completion will boost the island’s capacity to host large numbers of tourists, as it currently has a few guesthouses.

More flights to the island are expected to follow; however, this will largely depend on whether the airport is expanded to allow larger aircraft to land.

Naypyitaw International Airport

Tender information


Staff housing 

  • Two storey unit 42.67mx15.24m
  • Rooms: 6
  • Reinforced concrete
  • Electrical works

Naypyitaw International Airport is located 16km or a 30-minute drive from the city. It is the third largest airport in Myanmar both by area and number of passengers served, after Yangon and Mandalay’s international airports. It officially opened on 19 December 2011. 

Three domestic airlines, Myanmar National Airlines (MNA), Myanmar Airways International (MAI) and Air KBZ, have daily flights to Yangon. For other domestic destinations, passengers first have to transit in Yangon. 

The airport also serves direct international flights to Bangkok, Beijing, Kunming, Shenzhen, Nanning and Xi’an. 

It has the capacity to serve 3.5 million passengers a year. However, the airport has failed to reach commercial expectations. 

In 2016, Myanmar conglomerate Asia World, which built and managed the airport under BOT terms, returned management back to the DCA. At the time, the company was reportedly making losses because of low passenger traffic and a decreasing number of flight movements at the airport. 

Furthermore, in 2014 AirAsia launched flights between Kuala Lumpur and Naypyitaw, however, they were subsequently cancelled. 

In 2019, the airport saw 22,787 international passenger arrivals and 19,963 international departures at an average of 1,899 and 1,664 per month, respectively, with 1012 international aircraft movements at an average of 84 per month. It handled no international air freight.

For domestic flights, the airport saw 93,141 arrivals and 91,602 departures at an average of 7,762 and 7,634 per month, respectively. The airport handled 8.531 tonnes of domestic air freight. 

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