Wednesday, March 21 2018


French consultant offers Tân Sơn Nhất airport expansion plans

Update: March, 01/2018 - 09:00
Building a new terminal and more taxiways without building another runway and improving access to the airport are among the solutions suggested by a French consultancy for expanding HCM City’s Tân Sơn Nhất airport.— Photo

HCM CITY — Building a new terminal and more taxiways without building another runway and improving access to the airport are among the solutions suggested by a French consultancy for expanding HCM City’s Tân Sơn Nhất airport.

These would help increase the airport’s capacity to 51 million passengers a year by 2025, ADP-I Engineering experts told a meeting held in Hà Nội on Tuesday.

The company forecast that by 2025 passenger traffic through Tân Sơn Nhất would reach 51 million a year and cargo, nearly one million tonnes.

The airport has two parallel runways only 365 metres apart, which is not efficient, they said.

The limited taxiway system and insufficient tools to exploit airspace cap the airport’s capacity at the current 36 million passengers a year, they said.

To increase the capacity, it is essential to expand the infrastructure, they said.

With regard to traffic around the airport, they pointed out there is only one main road providing access to the airport, which causes frequent congestion, and this calls for a road providing dedicated access to the airport, they said.

It would be a good idea to develop public transportation systems such as subways to the airport, they said.

They recommended limiting the airport’s capacity to 50 million passengers by 2025 so that no additional runway would have to be built.

A new runway would require space to build, which would cost a lot of money for land acquisition and worsen the noise and air pollution in what is a residential area, they warned.

They offered two options for building a new passenger terminal: either in the north or south of the airport.

But if the north is chosen – admittedly, there is a lot of easily gettable military land there -- it would be a challenge for passengers since the two existing terminals are in the south.

Thus their recommendation was to build a new terminal as well as more aprons in the south.

They suggested building a cargo terminal in the north instead to ensure one million tonnes can be handled in a year, and also to build a facility for aircraft maintenance.

The plan proposed by them is similar to one by the Airport Design and Construction Consultancy One Member Ltd Company (ADCC).

It would help increase the airport’s capacity to 43-45 million passengers a year while only using around 24ha of military land and costing VNĐ19 trillion (US$834.81 million), and can be completed within only two or three years, they said.


But some local experts disagreed with the suggestions. Dr Dương Như Hùng of the HCM City University of Technology said the French consultancy’s forecasts lack a scientific basis and so are not reliable.

With its annual growth rate of 14 per cent in the last 10 years, the forecast for the airport’s passenger traffic to rise to 44 million in 2020 and 51 million by 2025 is “inaccurate and far from reality,” he said.

Some studies have predicted that by 2025 the passenger number would rise to 80 million, which is also in line with forecasts by the International Air Transport Association, he said.

“If Tân Sơn Nhất airport’s capacity is curtailed, it will affect travel and cost billions of dollars due to airport congestion.”

Nguyễn Bách Tùng, general director of ADCC, disagreed with Hùng, saying, “We confirm that the French consultants’ data is relatively accurate, reliable and similar to the studies we have done.”

The suggestion to build a new terminal in the south is completely reasonable since to expand the airport to the north is “extremely complex”, he said.

Nguyễn Phú Hải, an aviation expert, also said that the solutions proposed by the French consultants is reasonable and also agreed that the airport’s capacity should be limited at 50 million passengers per year.

A Ministry of Defence official said while his ministry is agreeable to providing land to the Ministry of Transport, taking too much land would affect security.

Minister of Transport Nguyễn Văn Thể said it would be impossible for Tân Sơn Nhất to increase its capacity to 70 million passengers because of noise and environmental pollution issues.

But he said the French consultancy should assess the impact of noise and environmental pollution caused by the airport expansion based on Vietnamese and international laws.

“How would it be like if we increase the capacity to 70 million or 100 million passengers?” he asked rhetorically.

“The Ministry of Transport will base its recommendation on this [the French consultancy’s study] to report to the Government the maximum capacity of Tân Sơn Nhất airport to ensure the normal life of people.”

The consulting company should compare the cost efficiency of expanding southward and northward, considering factors like total investment, construction time and connectivity between the new and old facilities, he said.

“The airport expansion must also take into account the development of other airports in the southern region, especially Long Thành International Airport in Đồng Nai Province, which is scheduled to be put into operation in 2025.”

The report by the consulting company is an independent opinion which is not dependent on any organisation in Việt Nam and based on science, he said.

“Prior to reporting to the Government, the consultant should propose the most feasible option with the lowest cost.”

He also said his ministry would report to the Government on the expansion plans within this week.

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc had last year instructed the ministry to hire a competent foreign consultant to propose expansion plans for the airport both to the north and the south, increasing the capacity to 45-50 million passengers a year.

Tân Sơn Nhất now has two terminals that serve 32 million passengers annually, well above its designed capacity of 25 million.

It only has two runways that are sometimes closed due to flooding or lightning strikes. It only has space for 57 aircraft at a time. — VNS


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