Vietnam to have private investors build four airports

By Anh Duy   September 5, 2022 | 11:07 pm PT
The government has either approved or is considering plans to build airports in the north and central regions under the public-private partnership (PPP) format.

Home to the resort town of Sa Pa, the mountainous province of Lao Cai in Vietnam's northwest started work on Sa Pa airport in Bao Yen District late last month.

Serving both commercial and military purposes, the airport is designed to serve Airbus A320, 321 and aircraft of equivalent size with a capacity to receive 1.5 million passengers per year.

A feasibility study said the project costs VND3.65 trillion ($155.8 million), including VND661 billion in state funds. It will have an operating period of 50 years, including more than three years of construction and 46 years and two months of exploitation and capital recovery.

Also last month, Son La Province in the northwest proposed the government let it build Na San airport in the PPP form. The new airport is a renovation and expansion of an abandoned airport in Mai Son District.

Costing more than VND3 trillion, the commercial airport will serve one million passengers and 350 tons of cargo each year in its first phase. The second phase, scheduled to be completed by 2030, will see it receive two million passengers and transport 6,000 tons of cargo per year.

Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh last week ordered relevant units to consider the proposal by Lai Chau Province, another northwestern locality, seeking permission to have its Lai Chau airport built under the PPP format.

The joint-use airport will be built in Tan Uyen Town of the eponymous district.

Late last year, the government approved in principle for Quang Tri airport in central Quang Tri Province to be invested in the form of PPP.

Used for both military and civilian aviation, the airport in Gio Linh District will cost VND5.82 trillion, including VND312.8 billion of the state budget, and have an annual capacity of one million passengers and 3,100 tons of cargo.

Work on its first phase is expected to start within the first quarter of next year.

An artists impression of Quang Tri airport. Photo by T&T

An artist's impression of Quang Tri airport. Photo by T&T

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) under the Ministry of Transport, the investment cost of airport infrastructure is huge, prompting the mobilization of private investment.

The main trend in calling for private funds to invest in airports around the world is the PPP or franchise model, and the state only holds the right to own and control major and key airports that make important contributions to the national economy, it said.

Vietnam currently has 22 civilian airports, and late last year the ministry had increased the number to 28 by 2030 and 31 by 2050, including 14 international airports.

According to the CAAV, the aviation sector served 23.3 million passengers in the first six months, up 74.2% against the same period last year and meeting 60% of the figure recorded in the first half of 2019.

The figure in 2020 was not put into comparison because the industry was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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