Controversy over plan for three new airports up north

By Bui Hong Nhung, April 1, 2016 | 02:17 am PT
The Ministry of Transport plans to construct three new airports in the northwest region with total investment of VND9.8 trillion ($440 million).

Illustrative photo

The airports will be located in the provinces of Lao Cai, Lai Chau and Son La and will go into operation in 2020.

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Nhat said that the northwest provinces have rugged terrain that makes it difficult to develop traffic infrastructure. The new airports will connect the northwest and other areas of the country, triggering socio-economic development in the region.

The ministry has already completed planning for the three airports.

“The state budget revenue is very limited, so the ministry is calling for enterprises to conduct surveys and invest in the new airports,” Nhat said.

However, only a numbers of businesses have conducted surveys and none of them have made a decision on whether to invest or not.

Tran Dinh Ba, a member of the Vietnam Economic Association, said it would be a waste to construct three new airports in the northwest region because Vietnam is a small country with a large number of airports, and some are already operating below capacity. Three new airports would just exacerbate the problem.

An aviation expert also said that the country has 21 airports, which means on average every 100 kilometers there is an airport. Amid cut-throat competition with road transport, more airports would likely drive many to operate even further under capacity.

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