Experts unable to agree on location for Hanoi's second airport

By Doan Loan   October 1, 2020 | 08:30 pm PT
Experts unable to agree on location for Hanoi's second airport
An Eva Air aircraft parks at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi, near a construction site for runway upgrade, July 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
A proposal to build a second international airport in Hanoi has elicited mixed opinions from aviation and planning experts.

The city's Department of Planning and Architecture recently recommended the construction of the airport in the southern district of Ung Hoa, 40 kilometers from downtown, to meet the growing demand for air travel.

Ung Hoa has several advantages such as good transport links with the city center since it is served by roads, rail and waterway, and a large area of 1,300 hectares available for the airport, it said.

Dr Nguyen Bach Tung, a former airport design researcher, approved of the idea saying major cities across the world with a population of 10-15 million have two international airports.

However, Ung Hoa is not an ideal choice since it is low-lying and used to be a flood discharge area, he warned.

The second airport could be built in Thanh Mien and Binh Giang Districts in the northern province of Hai Duong, 45-50 kilometers from Hanoi, or Tien Lang District in Hai Phong City, around 120 kilometers from the capital and with a high terrain and convenient traffic links, he said.

Aviation expert Pham Van Toi approved the choice of Ung Hoa but said the location also depends on other factors such as vertical clearance, geology, climate, and hydrology, and Hanoi needs to make a thorough evaluation.

Tran Ngoc Chinh, chairman of the Vietnam Urban Planning Association, also agreed with building the airport in the south of Hanoi to also serve neighboring provinces such as Ninh Binh, Ha Nam and Nam Dinh, which do not have airports despite having tourism potential.

Commenting on the low terrain in the south, he said it is necessary to do further surveys of the topography.

In a survey on VnExpress’ Vietnamese edition that opened on Thursday over 51 percent of 5,151 readers who voted agreed Ung Hoa District should serve as the location for the second international airport.

Experts also said if a second airport is to be built after 2030, the capacity of Noi Bai Airport should only be expanded to 50 million passengers a year and not the currently proposed 100 million.

It now has a capacity of 25 million, and consultancy Transport Engineering Design Inc is carrying out studies to increase it to 100 million by 2050.

Toi said the expansion would overload the surrounding traffic infrastructure and with people living in the area for a long time, acquiring land would be difficult.

He pointed to Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, which is currently causing congestion in its vicinity, spurring the government to speed up construction of Long Thanh Airport in neighboring Dong Nai Province.

Major airports around the world usually have a capacity of 70-80 million passengers and only megacities like Beijing have airports with a capacity of 100 million, he said.

In Vietnam, demand for air travel was rising consistently until Covid-19 broke out, with its airports handling 116 million passengers last year, up 12 percent from 2018, according to the Airports Corporation of Vietnam.

The country has 22 civilian airports, including 10 international air hubs.

Tan Son Nhat in HCMC and Noi Bai in Hanoi are the largest.

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