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Debate continues over Long Thanh Airport

Update: June, 03/2015 - 08:44
Artistic impression of Long Thanh International Airport . There was an urgent need to build the airport to ease presure on Tan Son Nhat Airpor, experts said. — vnexpress.net photo

HA NOI (VNS) — Most participants at a conference held on Monday agreed on the need to build Long Thanh International Airport to reduce heavy pressure on Tan Son Nhat International Airport

However, there were still concerns about the plan for the new airport. Speaking at the event held by the Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences, the director of the Viet Nam Economic Research Institute, Tran Dinh Thien, said Viet Nam was in critical need of a modern airport to serve the southern region.

This would have to be integrated with the boosting of the economies in the southern provinces and cities within the Viet Nam Southern Key Economic Zone.

Tran Du Lich, a National Assembly member from HCM City, said Tan Son Nhat Airport was really overloaded and its close range to residential area posed many problems for local residents.

Lich said while there was no question that another airport was needed, the problem was how it could be done.

"I'm concerned about public debt, however, that does not mean we should delay such a critical infrastructure project," Lich said. "The important thing is to ensure that the project will be done efficiently - and without corruption."

Concerns about Long Thanh airport have mostly focused on its economic efficiency and the form of investment. It was previouly stated that it could cost about $19 billion, but the Ministry of Transport revised this down to $15.8 billion.

Luong Hoai Nam, an aviation expert, said research on Long Thanh airport began 18 years ago when former Prime Minister Phan Van Khai signed a development plan for zoning airports and ports.

Nam noted that a series of infrastructure projects had opened to pave the way for Long Thanh airport, such as the HCM City-Long Thanh-Dau Day expressway, Ben Luc-Long Thanh expressway.

At the event, Transport Minister Dinh La Thang said there was an urgent need to build Long Thanh Airport to ease pressure on Tan Son Nhat. He added that both airports would be operated together.

He said 11 per cent of Long Thanh Airport's total cost would be covered by the State budget, 26 per cent would come from Official Development Assistance (ODA) and the rest from the private sector.

Tan Son Nhat airport, which has been handling 20 million passengers a year since 2013, is expected to reach its maximum capacity of 25 million passengers in 2016 or 2017.

Previous reports show that Tan Son Nhat lacks parking space and that its passenger and cargo terminals, airport aprons and airspace were frequently overloaded.

According to reports from the Transport Ministry, expansion of Tan Son Nhat airport by 40-50 million passengers would require an additional 641 hectares in the area of Tan Binh, Go Vap, Phu Nhuan and relocation of about 140,000 households at an eatimated cost of $9.1 billion just for resettlement.

Officials say Tan Son Nhat is so close to the city centre and if it was to grow any more, it would seriously affect residents' lives.

The NA is scheduled to discuss the Long Thanh issue tomorrow and consider passing a resolution, in principle, on investment in the airport on June 25. — VNS

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