French consultant hired to give 'objective view' of Saigon's airport expansion plan

By Doan Loan   October 29, 2017 | 09:10 pm PT
French consultant hired to give 'objective view' of Saigon's airport expansion plan
A view of Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Hoa
The government appears to be looking for a second opinion on a plan drawn up by a local firm.

Vietnam’s transport ministry has hired a French consulting firm to work on a project to enlarge Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City following instructions from the government.

The aim is to raise Tan Son Nhat’s capacity to 43-45 million passengers per year over the next decade to ease overloading at the country’s biggest airport.

The ministry, which has already submitted an expansion plan drawn up by a local firm to the government, said: “We cannot not tell if the plan is feasible or not, so we believe hiring a foreign consultant will give a more objective view of the project.”

French firm ADPI is expected to submit its proposals by the end of this year. 

ADPI is a French company that specializes in airport architecture and engineering and is a fully owned subsidiary of Aéroports de Paris Group. It has previously worked on airports in Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul and Dubai.

Under the plan, HCMC has been asked to work with the ministries of transport, national defense and natural resources and environment to increase the confined airport by 21 hectares (52 acres) to the east, taking over land now controlled by the defense ministry.

Runways and parking space will be built on the additional land, which is currently reserved for military cargo planes and helicopters.

Two terminals capable of handling a combined 20 million passengers a year will be built by 2018, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam.

The entire project will cost an estimated VND19.7 trillion ($864 million).

The government has also asked the transport ministry to look into the possibility of expanding the airport to the north and south, raising its capacity to 45-50 million passengers per year.

Tan Son Nhat currently has two terminals that serve 32 million passengers annually, well over its design capacity of 25 million.

It also only has two runways that are sometimes closed due to flooding or lightning strikes. The airport has space for 57 aircraft at a time, but sometimes it has to handle more than 70.

Vietnam’s airline market is the third fastest growing in Asia-Pacific, and the country is grappling with a severe lack of airport capacity.

Aviation authorities estimate that the number of passengers on domestic flights will soar 35 percent to 28 million this year, accounting for more than half of the total air travel in the country.

Vietnam is also planning to build a massive new airport in the southern province of Dong Nai, which neighbors Ho Chi Minh City.

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