Long Thanh Airport could host long haul or beyond-ASEAN flights

By Doan Loan   November 22, 2018 | 12:55 am PT
Long Thanh Airport could host long haul or beyond-ASEAN flights
Layout plan for Long Thanh terminal. Photo acquired by VnExpress
Several options, including exclusive servicing of long-haul flights, have been proposed for the Long Thanh Airport planned in southern Vietnam.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has recommended two broad options for dividing traffic between the existing Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City and the Long Thanh Airport that will built in the neighboring province of Dong Nai.

The first option that it has suggested to the Transport Ministry is that Long Thanh will handle all international flights of more than 1,000 km, with the rest flying into Tan Son Nhat.

For domestic flights, carriers can choose where they want to be based.

The second option is to allocate all flights from outside Southeast Asia to Long Thanh.

The allocation criteria can be reconsidered after five years of actual operation, the CAAV proposed.

Carriers Jetstar Pacific and Vietjet have supported the second option.

Vietnam Airlines wants to use Long Thanh for all international flights and certain domestic flights and Tan Son Nhat only for domestic flights.

The preliminary feasibility report on the Long Thanh airport by a joint venture between firms from Japan, France and Vietnam had suggested that all budget carriers could fly into Tan Son Nhat, and all full-service airlines use Long Thanh.

But CAAV executives said the law does not distinguish between full-service and low-cost airlines, making the suggestion impractical.

In the communication it sent recently to the Transport Ministry, the CAAV suggested operating international and domestic flights from both airports, ensuring their equal and non-discriminatory use.

An aviation specialist who did not want to be named pointed out that airlines would prefer to operate from Tan Son Nhat because of its high capacity and proximity to downtown Ho Chi Minh City.

The ministry needs to allocate flights in such a way as to ensure both airports benefit equally and the load on Tan Son Nhat eases. The allocation of domestic flights to Tan Son Nhat and international flights to Long Thanh is not feasible since airlines fly the same aircraft on both international and domestic routes, meaning they would often have to fly empty between the two airports, the specialist noted.

He said the distribution of routes should also depend on the growth of the aviation market.

Situated 40 kilometers east of Ho Chi Minh City, the Long Thanh airport is expected to take up the overflow from the largest existing airport in the country, the Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

The Tan Son Nhat International Airport now receives 32 million passengers a year, far beyond its designed capacity of 25 million.

Long Thanh, to be built in three phases over three decades, was recently listed by CNN Travel as one of the world’s 16 most exciting airport projects.

The first phase is scheduled for completion in 2025 when it will be able to handle 25 million passengers a year. The next two phases will be built in 2030-2035 and 2040-2050.

It will have a capacity of 100 million passengers and five million tons of cargo when completed.

The Airports Corporation of Vietnam said airports had handled 87 million passengers in the first 10 months of this year, up 12 percent year-on-year.

The number of international passengers rose by 23 percent and domestic passengers by 7 percent.

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