Government approves northern highlands airport in Sa Pa

By Dat Nguyen   November 13, 2019 | 05:51 am PT
Government approves northern highlands airport in Sa Pa
Farmers work on terraced fields in Sa Pa Town, Lao Cai Province. Photo by Shuttersstock/Phuong D. Nguyen.
The Ministry of Transport has approved a plan to construct Sa Pa Airport with a capacity of 3 million passengers a year.

Located 80 kilometers away from the mountain resort town of Sa Pa, the domestic airport will have nine aircraft parking slots, and will be used for both civilian and military purposes. Its single runway will be able to receive aircraft similar to the narrow-body Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-700.

A six-lane road will be built to connect the 371 hectare airport with the existing Hanoi - Lao Cai Expressway.

Authorities in the northern highlands province of Lao Cai, where Sa Pa Town is located, had said that they would need VND3.09 trillion ($133 million) from the state to build the airport.

The central government’s proposed contribution would amount to 52 percent of the airport’s total investment, which is estimated at VND5.9 trillion ($254 million). The province had proposed that construction of the airport begins this year and be completed in 2021.

The airport is expected to mainly serve tourists from southern Vietnam and southwestern China.

However, some aviation experts have cautioned that this inflow would be unstable, when compared to the Van Don airport in northern Quang Ninh Province, where Ha Long Bay and other attractions are located.

When built, Sa Pa Airport will become the 23rd airport in Vietnam, 10 of which operate international flights.

Lao Cai welcomed 4.2 million visitors last year, up 20 percent from 2017. 720,000 of them were international tourists.

In the past a large number of tourists traveled to Sa Pa by train from Hanoi to Lao Cai. This has reduced since the $1.5-billion Noi Bai-Lao Cai Expressway was opened in September 2014, with many visitors preferring the five-hour bus ride to an eight-hour overnight trip on the train.

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