The Lao government will upgrade and expand Wattay International Airport in Vientiane in early next year with financial support from Japan.

The expanded airport is expected to carry more than 2 million to 3 million people annually in the future.

“The project will come at a cost of about 800 billion LAK (100 million USD),” Yakua Lopangkao, Director General of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport’s Civil Aviation Department, was quoted by Vientiane Times as saying.

The construction work will be operated by a Japanese company and is expected to be completed in 2018, he said, adding that “We have planned to take out a low interest loan from the government of Japan to expand the existing international terminal.”

In the 1990s, Wattay Airport was designed to carry less than 1 million passengers per year. But it currently welcomes about 1 million people at the international terminal.

According to the official, the number of passengers will exceed the airport’s designed capacity as Laos integrates to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and signs up to the “ASEAN Open Skies”.

Along with the expansion of Wattay Airport, Laos plans to build a new international airport, about 35 kilometres south of Vientiane, which is expected to benefit the country’s economy and tourism industry.

Laos has 12 airports, four of which can provide services in line with international standards including Wattay, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Champasak, while the remaining airports are used for domestic flights.-VNA