Let private firms build more airports, analysts propose

By Doan Loan   October 12, 2022 | 03:26 am PT
Let private firms build more airports, analysts propose
An aircraft lands at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Letting public companies invest in new airports would help improve the country’s infrastructure to meet rising demand and reduce dependency on state-owned enterprises, analysts have said.

Transportation demand is a key factor in the modern economy as both businesspeople and tourists have a need to travel to many places, even distant destinations, in the shortest time possible, said former head of the Vietnam Institute of Economics Tran Dinh Thien at a Tuesday forum.

The aviation industry therefore plays an important role in boosting travel thanks to its high speed, and without new airports many localities will forever lay "in the dark," he added.

Van Don International Airport in the northern province of Quang Ninh, the first airport built by private investors in Vietnam, has proved that private companies can build an airport with speed and efficiency, Thien said.

"Private companies might even be more solid than state-owned enterprises. Letting them build airports will increase the openness of the country and boost development."

Nguyen Van Vinh, deputy head of the Vietnam Institute for Development Strategies, said that private investors should be given the chance to decide how big an airport should be to ensure cost-effectiveness, while the government only needs to create a transparent legal framework so private firms are assured in public-private investment projects.

Nguyen Dinh Cung, former head of the Central Institute for Economic Management, said that two-thirds of Vietnam’s planned airports, especially small ones, should be invested via private funding as the state-run Airports Corporation of Vietnam has limited resources.

Many localities in Vietnam have been proposing new airports in recent years as demand travel rises.

Lao Cai Province, a northern locality famous for mountainous Sa Pa Town, welcomed 5.2 million tourists in 2019 (before Covid-19), up from 2.8 million in 2015.

Its deputy chairman Nguyen Trong Hai said that a new airport would help improve the country’s logistics and economic growth.

The province is now looking for a private investor to build a VND7 trillion airport under a public-private partnership. Bidding is set to open in November.

Cung said localities that are seeking permission for airport construction have a legitimate demand and their proposals should be included in the country’s aviation plan for the next decades.

Instead of limiting the country’s number of airports to 28 by 2030 or 31 by 2050, the government should plan for more airports and let each locality decide whether it needs one based on actual demand.

Phan Duc Hieu, a standing member of the National Assembly’s Economic Committee, said that an airport not only boosts a province’s economic prospects but could also play a key role in supporting social needs like receiving aid during natural disasters.

Authorities should consider all benefits of an airport and approve proposals quickly, he added.

Vietnam currently has 22 civilian airports, but the biggest ones in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have been overloaded for years, driving the need for new constructions and upgrades.

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