The Chin State government is planning to build five additional airports using its Area Development Fund after the Falam airport is built, announced State Transport Minister Shwe Hti Yo.
The Falam airport will be a first for the remote state. It is being built with a budget of K25 billion from the Union government and is expected to be completed in 2020.
The five airports will be built in Hakha, Htantlan, Lielinpi, Tiddim and Paletwa.
Chin State is Myanmar’s poorest region, a fact that is largely attributed to poor connectivity to the rest of the country. The mountainous state has few paved roads, and arteries are frequently blocked by mudslides.
Furthermore, Chin State remains the only region of Myanmar without a functioning airport. The mountainous terrain leaves few places for an airport to be built, but the one in Falam has been in the works since 1934, when the British colonial government proposed it. The plans were halted following the Japanese invasion in 1942.
The Ne Win government took an interest in reviving the project in the 1960s but never fully committed to it out of fear that an airport in Falam would be used by invading Indian insurgent groups.
Demands for an airport in Chin State gained more traction following the 2010 elections, but disputes over where to build it forestalled any progress. Falam was eventually chosen by local parliamentarians after residents unilaterally began construction on the original site.