Vietnam rejects five new airport proposals

By Doan Loan   May 8, 2021 | 08:01 pm PT
Vietnam rejects five new airport proposals
An aircraft takes off at Tan Son Nhat International Airport on May 7, 2021 when construction of new taxiways are underway. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Aviation authorities have rejected the proposal of five localities to build their own airports and suggested that only one be added to the current master plan.

Airport proposals by the northern provinces of Ha Giang, Bac Giang and Ninh Binh as well as the central provinces of Binh Phuoc and Ha Tinh have been rejected by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).

The CAAV has proposed to the Ministry of Transport that the number of airports in the country stays at 28 by 2030, and just one more airport in the northern province of Cao Bang be built by 2050, bringing the total nationwide to 29.

Vietnam has 22 airports operating at present and six more approved for construction by 2030, including the Long Thanh International Airport in the southern province of Dong Nai and Sa Pa Airport in the northern province of Lao Cai.

Officials and experts have expressed concern over an airport glut in the country.

Nguyen Anh Dung, deputy head of the Department of Planning and Investment under the Transport Ministry, said that all airports with an annual traffic of under two million passengers a year are recording losses.

Airports built within 100 kilometers of each other are likely to result in low efficiency, according to case studies done in other countries, he added.

Aviation expert Nguyen Bach Tung said that some of the proposals have been rejected because of unsuitable topography, like the mountainous terrain in Ha Giang and the vast rice fields in Ninh Binh that are the main source of livelihood for the locals.

Other proposals have been rejected because the airports would be too close to existing ones. For instance, residents of Ha Tinh and Ninh Binh can use the Vinh International Airport or the Tho Xuan Airport, respectively, because these two are within 100 kilometers of the localities.

Pham Van Toi, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Association on Aviation Science and Technology, said that many proposals have been made without thorough examination of their merits and demerits.

Ha Giang, for example, proposed an airport for both military and civilian purposes, even though it has limited land and airspace, he said.

The CAAV has also identified a possible land area for a second international airport in the northern city of Hai Phong, which had been planned by the government in 2011.

The airport is set to be located in Tien Lang District, around 120 kilometers to the southeast of Noi Bai International Airport, and will serve to absorb overflow at the Hanoi's airport and the existing Cat Bi International Airport in Hai Phong.

Tung said that Tien Lang has a land fund of 4,000-6,000 hectares available for building an airport with a capacity of up to 100 million passengers a year, which is four times that of the Noi Bai airport in Hanoi.

This location is also within 100 kilometers from four other northern provinces – Ha Nam, Thai Binh, Nam Dinh and Hai Duong, he said.

Toi also said that Tien Lang was a suitable location because it has good road connectivity with Hanoi, while the existing Cat Bi airport cannot be expanded as it is located near a river.

A spokesperson for construction company Tedi, which is advising authorities on the construction of the Tien Lang airport, said existing airports in the north can still meet demand from now until 2040, and authorities should take a call on whether the airport is needed later.

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