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Laos plans to have direct flight to Japan, Singapore and Myanmar

Officials from Laos and Japan will conduct a feasibility study of direct flights between Nagoya Airport in Japan and Wattay International Airport in Vientiane.

The Director General of the Civil Aviation Department, Mr Yakua Lopangkao, told Vientiane Times yesterday that Lao officials will first collect basic information regarding potential passenger demand.

“We expect to collect the information within the next two months and then we will send it to Japan,” he said. “We will meet with Japanese officials a month later.”

Mr Yakua observed that more people are flying from America and Japan to Indochina, especially to Laos.

Mr Yakua said that last year Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh visited Japan and met with his Japanese counterpart to discuss various areas of cooperation. One of the issues discussed was the possibility of a direct flight from Nagoya to Vientiane.

Laos has direct flights to several countries, including Thailand, China, Cambodia and Vietnam. Air Asia started direct flights from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia , late last year.

A flight between Laos and Singapore is also under consideration, Mr Yakua said.

“Last month, we had meetings with representatives from airlines in Singapore who told us they needed a more detailed survey before any developments could take place,” he added.

A direct flight to Myanmar is also under discussion, as officials believe such a move could boost tourism in the region.

“Our government has an open policy concerning flight connections with any foreign country to encourage tourism in Laos ,” Mr Yakua said.

Earlier last year, the Lao government granted visa exemptions to Japanese tourists to strengthen relations between the two countries.

This has led to an increasing number of Japanese visitors to Laos.

According to the Lao National Tourism Administration, in 2005 around 23,000 Japanese visited Laos and in 2006 this figure increased by just two percent.

But in 2007 the figure jumped by 34 percent as a result of the visa exemption.

Tourism officials confirmed that the number of Japanese tourists was increasing, contributing to economic growth.

By Somsack Pongkhao
Vientiane Times

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