Much-needed improvements to Bokeo airport may have to wait a few years more because the government cannot afford to pay for the upgrade of this provincial facility.
Minister of Public Works and Transport Dr Bounchan Sinthavong last week informed Assembly members of the situation when speaking at the National Assembly’s ongoing debate session.
Plans for the reconstruction of the airstrip have been made and the project is awaiting approval from Bokeo province and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, after which the plan will be submitted to the government.
It’s expected that the plan to upgrade the airport will be added to a list of government projects for 2018. But the government currently has no money to spend on the expansion, Dr Bounchan said.
At present, only small aircraft operated by Lao Sky way can land at Bokeo airport. Seventy-seater ATR aircraft previously landed there but these flights stopped last year because of the poor condition of the landing fi eld.
Most people flying to Bokeo from Vientiane are Lao. There is much greater demand for flights in the other direction – from Bokeo to Vientiane.
This is usually because, having made the long journey north by road, which takes 23-24 hours, people don’t want to have to make the return journey through yet more hairpin bends and steep downhill gradients, especially as it is unpleasant for anyone who gets travel sick.
In contrast, the flight from Bokeo to Vientiane takes just 50 minutes.
Bokeo province is now trying to make more accommodation available for foreign guests travelling between Thailand and Southern China via Route R3.
The construction of more hotels, guesthouses and restaurants is anticipated to cater for the anticipated increase in visitors after the opening of a new Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge a few years ago, which further opens up the area to travellers.
Source: Vientiane Times