In an effort to compete with the bustling airports in Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok, Vietnam’s National Assembly voted to move forward with plans to build a US$15.8 billion airport outside of Ho Chi Minh City, reported Thanhnien News.
The Long Thanh International Airport is being called Vietnam’s most ambitious infrastructure project yet. The airport will be designed to handle 100 million passengers and 5 million tonnes of freight per year after 2050, which would make it larger than the current airfreight throughput at Hong Kong International Airport.
The added cargo capacity would be a significant improvement for the region, which is experiencing a rapid growth in traffic. Currently the country’s biggest airport is Tan Son Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City, which handled about 22 million passengers, but only 408,000 tons of cargo in 2014. To the north, Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi, with a $900 million second terminal added last year, handled 14 million passengers and 355,000 tonnes last year.
To be built in three separate phases, the airport will be located in the southern province of Dong Nai, approximately 25 miles northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, on a 19-square-mile site. The first phase is scheduled to start in 2018, at a cost of $5.2 billion.
The second phase will be built from 2030 to 2035, costing $4 billion, and the third stage from 2040 to 2050, costing $6.6 billion, according to preliminary figures. When it goes into operation, in 2025, Long Thanh will be able to serve 38 million passengers annually.
Reuters reported that funding for the huge airport will come from a combination of the state budget, foreign and domestic private investment, and overseas development aid. France’s Aeroports de Paris SA is interested, but it wants to become a strategic investor in the state-run airport operator, Airports Corporation of Vietnam. Opponents say that the airport is not urgent, in light of Vietnam’s significant debt, which amounts to a per-capita public debt of about $900 per year.