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Vietnam prepares for Long Thanh Airport construction

Yesterday, Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister, Trinh Dinh Dung, called for expeditious completion and submission of the Long Thanh International Airport Project feasibility report, so that it can be reviewed and approved during the Vietnamese National Assembly in October, allowing construction of the new airport to begin early next year.

Aware of shifting cargo flows due to rising costs of manufacturing in China and volatile U.S.-China trade relations, the Vietnamese government began planning construction of the Long Thanh Airport in the country’s southern Dong Nai province with the intent of alleviating congestion at Ho Chi Minh’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN), as well as developing the new airport into a Southeast Asian aviation hub.

Last June, the Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) – a Vietnamese joint-stock company under the Ministry of Transport of Vietnam, which manages 21 airports in the country – formed a consortium with the Japan-France-Vietnam (JFV) joint venture, comprised of three Japanese, one French and two Vietnamese consulting companies, to conduct a feasibility study and manage construction of the Long Thanh Airport, designed by South Korean architectural company Heerim Architects & Planners. The consortium is supported by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) and the Vietnamese Ministry of Transport.

Long Thanh Airport will be constructed on 5,580 hectares of land and will take place over three phases, with a total investment of US$14.8 billion. During the first phase of construction, a runway, passenger terminal and cargo terminal will be built. The cargo terminal will have a cargo capacity of 1.2 million tonnes a year. Upon completion of the first phase in 2025, the airport will become operational. In the second phase the airport will add another runway and expand facilities, whereupon cargo throughput capacity will increase to 1.5 million tonnes a year. Following the third phase of construction, capacity at the airport will reach 5 million tonnes of cargo annually. According to VNExpress, the second phase will take place from 2030 to 2035 and the third phase from 2040 to 2050.

The consortium is required to submit an environmental impact report to the Ministry of Transport by March and the feasibility report to the national assembly by July this year. Designs for the project are anticipated to be completed by April, according to Nhân Dân, the online news presence of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party.

On Tuesday, the Deputy PM also suggested the project be open to private investment to lessen costs borne by the state budget. Experts also warn that the cost of the airport project could double every five years should delays to construction occur. The government must already pay for the clearance, compensation and resettlement of land for the airport occupied by the Dong Nai Rubber Company and 5,000 households, totaling at $978 million, currently being managed by the Ministry of Transport and the Dong Nai People’s Committee. According to Vietnamnet, however, the ACV proposed it should be the main investor, despite the cost, and said it can bring in $1 billion to 1.5 billion required for the first phase of construction.

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Chelsea Toczauer

Chelsea Toczauer is the Associate Editor of the company’s daily news and monthly magazine Air Cargo World. She holds two BAs in International Relations and Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Southern California, as well as a double accredited US-Chinese MA in International Studies from the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University joint degree program. Chelsea speaks Mandarin and Russian.