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City rejects airport expansion

Update: October, 08/2014 - 08:40
Airplanes land at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCM City. The city has rejected plans to expand the airport on practicality grounds. — VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hung

HCM CITY (VNS) — HCM City has rejected plans to expand its airport on practicality grounds and instead wants work on a new airport in neighbouring Dong Nai Province speeded up.

The 1,500-hectare Tan Son Nhat International Airport currently has nearly 590.5 hectares under civilian use and the rest for military activities, but is located in a very densely populated area, which raises questions about the wisdom of expanding it.

Its current capacity is around 20 million passengers per year, meaning the transportation system connecting the airport with the city is frequently overloaded, according to the city people's committee.

If the airport's annual capacity is to be raised to 50 million passengers, it will have to expand to the north, where around 640 hectares need to be cleared and 140,000 households moved.

Expansion will cost an estimated US$9.15 billion if the land is acquired at official prices, and much higher if based on market rates, according to the city administration.

An expanded airport will surely worsen the noise and air pollution in one of the country's most densely populated cities.

Urban development and airspace management by the Ministry of Defence will also be impacted, the people's committee fears.

The city has urged the Ministry of Transport to soon begin work on Long Thanh Airport in Dong Nai instead.

With a maximum capacity of 25 million passengers a year, Tan Son Nhat is expected to be overloaded by 2017 when the demand will rise to around 29 million, while the first phase of Long Thanh — with an annual capacity of 17 million — will not be ready until 2023, according to the Airports Corporation of Viet Nam (ACV).

The ACV had drawn up plans to expand Tan Son Nhat's capacity to 26 million passengers pending opening of Long Thanh. — VNS

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