Air passenger traffic in Vietnam soars amid crowded airports

By Toan Dao   August 30, 2016 | 06:37 am GMT+7
Air passenger traffic in Vietnam soars amid crowded airports
Passengers at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Cong

Airport expansion plans for two major airports are still pending approval.

The number of passengers traveling by air in Vietnam reached about 26.4 million in the first eight months of this year, jumping 27.3 percent from a year earlier as local airlines paid more attention to the domestic market, according to latest data from the General Statistics Office.

Attractive ticket prices from budget airlines helped welcome more passengers in the period, which also translated into the decrease in the number of passengers traveling by train.

The number of foreign visitors who traveled by air to the Southeast Asian nation also rose 28.5 percent year on year to around 5.44 million during January-August, the data showed.

The sharp rise in the number of passengers traveling by air within and to Vietnam has put more strain on Tan Son Nhat and Noi Bai, the two major international airports in the country.

Tan Son Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City has capacity to handle 25 million passengers but is expected to welcome 31 million passengers this year, according to Lai Xuan Thanh, director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the domestic terminal at Noi Bai in Hanoi capital had to handle about 12 million passengers last year, much higher than its designed capacity of 8 million.

The country has targeted to work on expansion at the two airports and build a giant airport, Long Thanh, in the southern province of Dong Nai to ease pressure for Tan Son Nhat. However, while the expansion proposals at Tan Son Nhat and Noi Bai have not been approved yet, the first phase of construction at Long Thanh will not be kicked off at least until 2019.

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