|An artist's impression of Long Thành International Airport in Đồng Nai Province, Việt Nam. — VNA/VNS Photo
Vietnam News Agency spoke to Lại Xuân Thanh, chairman of the board of the State-owned Airports Corporation of Việt Nam, the main investor of the Long Thành International Airport, on the progress of the megaproject in southern Việt Nam.
Can you tell us about the current progress of the project?
2,600ha out of the 5,300ha meant for phase 1 has been handed over to the project. Realistically, construction could start right away even when the land has not been fully cleared, and the most important areas have been handed over, so land issues are not much of a concern.
Some components like bomb clearance and erecting barriers surrounding the airport are ongoing.
After the Tết (traditional Lunar New Year) holiday, or in February, ACV will start the main components like ground levelling, pile foundation, as well as work on the runways.
In line with the Government, ACV is striving to finish the project by June 2025 and maybe even earlier, compared to the National Assembly-approved deadline of December 2025.
The Long Thành international airport is a national key project and the largest scale project in the history of the country’s aviation industry. There are many difficulties, but mostly technical ones, as obstacles regarding administrative procedures have been resolved promptly by relevant authorities.
In addition, Deputy Prime Minister Lê Văn Thành has requested a monthly briefing of this project, with meetings held at different concerned agencies and at the construction sites, in a bid to bring the project to the finish line soon.
In the past two years, given the pandemic, ACV’s revenues were hit quite badly. Will this mean the amount of investment capital the group pours into the project will decrease?
The capital in the project does not change even though our revenues suffered heavily from the COVID-19 fallout. The few hundred billions of đồng in profits are only enough to go into the fund for the development of air infrastructure.
Still, we could manage the financial resources for the airport, and maintained the pledged VNĐ99.019 trillion (US$4.37 billion) in capital and no differences compared to the amount in the pre-feasibility reports that were approved by both the Government and the National Assembly.
We currently have VNĐ36 trillion from the development fund, and the remainder from commercial loans. The Government and the Commission for the Management of State Capital at Enterprises have agreed on the policy of borrowing from domestic banks in US dollar and paying in US dollar to save on interest. ACV is in close coordination with the State Bank, the Commission and domestic commercial banks to develop a detailed plan for submission for the approval of the borrowing plan.
So will this affect the progress of investment into other airports as well?
The capital for upgrading and expanding of other airports was indeed affected, and recently, under the instruction of the Commission, ACV has adjusted the investment plan and the progress, but we are committed to fulfilling the tasks assigned by the State.
ACV also strongly supports the Government’s policy of calling for all economic sectors to invest in airport infrastructure development.
Overall, there is not much disturbance to the development investment plan according to the approved plan of airports, given that there is not just State capital or ACV, but also capital from other investors in the form of Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
How do you assess the engagement of local administrations in handing over land for the airport projects?
ACV is tasked with building, upgrading, and expanding several airport projects across Việt Nam, and we are glad to have received the full support from local administrations, especially with regards to land clearance issues.
Take Điện Biên airport for example. Immediately after the Prime Minister’s issued the decision approving the investment policy, Điện Biên Province shortly afterwards implemented a site clearance project worth VNĐ1.555 trillion (US$68.7 million) from the local budget, even though the province itself is not well-to-do and facing difficulties due to COVID-19.
The province’s leaders said that they have spent the whole year’s reserve budget, to focus on the site clearance efforts. Only then can the construction start, and with this airport, they expect more investment would flow in, helping to develop socio-economic conditions in the province.
That is the great support, effort and determination of the local administration for ACV to facilitate the project.
This year, ACV will continue to implement projects such as expanding Côn Đảo airport to make it capable of receiving larger aircraft as well as renovating the runway; the Phú Bài terminal; main components of Long Thành airport; T3 terminal of Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport in HCM City; expanding terminal T2 at Nội Bài International Airport in Hà Nội; and investing in building a new terminal at Cát Bi International Airport in Hải Phòng. — VNS