First Airport in Western Myanmar’s Chin State to Open in June

By Lei Lei 3 January 2020

FALAM, Chin State—Surbung Airport, the first airport in Chin State, western Myanmar, is slated to begin operation in June, according to Chin State Chief Minister Salai Lian Luai. Chin State is currently only accessible by road.

“Northern Chin State has started receiving more local and foreign travelers now but transportation is still poor and the airport will make the state more accessible. We are trying to open it in June 2020,” the chief minister told The Irrawaddy.

The airport will also enable local residents to travel to other parts of the country more easily, he said. Construction of the airport is reportedly now 75 percent complete.

The airport is being built on a 522-hectare plot in Falam Township, around 13 km from the town center. It will have a 1,830-meter-long and 30-meter-wide runway designed to handle takeoffs and touchdowns of ART-72 airliners, according to the Chin State government.

“We have earmarked 37 billion kyats [US$25.2 million] for the airport. But due to budget constraints in the country, we are reviewing in order to cut expenses where possible,” said the chief minister.

The project was presented in 2013 and construction began in 2015. The airport is situated in the Surbung mountain range at an altitude of 1,830 m above sea level, according to Chin State government.

“In Chin State, the rainy season is longer and hot and cold seasons are shorter, so we need to be careful about clouds and fog in the rainy season. Similarly, we need to be careful about smoke from slash-and-burn farming in the hot season, so we have to purchase equipment to help the planes see through them. That’s why there are delays,” Salai Lian Luai said.

The airport is located strategically in the center of Chin State, making it easy to travel to other parts of Chin State including popular tourist attractions like Rih Lake, he added.

“Transportation will be better after the airport is built. I am very glad that we have an airport now because it is difficult even in the non-rainy season to travel from place to place,” said local ethnic Chin resident Ma Cheery.

Chin State is one of the least-developed states in Myanmar and its mountainous terrain forms a natural barrier that makes transportation challenging.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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