Vietnam airport expansion requires vicinity upgrade in tandem: Minister

By Huu Cong   August 4, 2018 | 06:25 pm PT
Vietnam airport expansion requires vicinity upgrade in tandem: Minister
A bird's-eye view of Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Airports Corporation of Vietnam
An infrastructure upgrade in surrounding areas should happen alongside expansion of Vietnam’s largest airport, the transport minister says.

Minister Nguyen Van The stressed at a Friday meeting with Ho Chi Minh City authorities that the latter pay attention to improving transportation infrastructure outside the nation’s busiest airport as they expand it.

“When Tan Son Nhat Airport is expanded, the number of passengers will increase, causing heavy pressure on traffic in the surrounding areas,” he said.

For this reason, construction of new roads needs to happen in sync with the building of a third terminal so that both projects are completed at the same time, The noted.

The current roads connecting HCMC with surrounding provinces are heavily congested, and if there are no new roads built, traffic congestion will be heavy for years to come, he said. “Traffic is a matter of life and death with Ho Chi Minh City.”

HCMC has already begun implementing plans to improve the city’s infrastructure, but its leaders admit that there are challenges.

The city had plans to construct 172 kilometers of new roads, but by June only 30 percent of them have been completed, said municipal Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong said at the meeting.

Bui Xuan Cuong, Head of HCMC Transport Department, said several infrastructure projects were ongoing, but at a sluggish pace because of a lack of investment and challenges in land clearance.

Minister The noted at the meeting that the Tan Son Nhat International Airport is to be expanded 210 hectares to the north for cargo and plane maintenance facilities and 70-80 hectares to the south for a third terminal. A meeting on the plan will be held next week and work will start soon after if there are no objections, he said.

The airport currently handles 36 million passengers a year, way above its designed capacity of 25 million. Some foreign airlines have already cut flights to and from the airport for this reason.

A new international airport is to be built in neighboring Dong Nai Province to deal with the overflow.  

Leaders in Hanoi are also urging transport authorities to complete an expansion plan for the Noi Bai International Airport in the capital city. They also want a third terminal and runway.

Reflecting the aviation sector boom in the country is the Van Don International Airport in northeast Vietnam, near the famous Ha Long Bay, which will open to traffic in December this year.

Local authorities have proposed the building of a new airport in the northern highlands province of Lao Cai near Sa Pa Town, which is another hot travel spot.

Vietnam welcomed 7.9 million foreign visitors in the first six months of this year, a year-on-year increase of 27 percent.

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