The Nà Sản Airport in the northern mountainous province of Sơn La has severely deteriorated after years of abandonment. Photo of the Ministry of Transport
HÀ NỘI — The Civil Aviation Authority of Việt Nam (CAAV) has proposed the Ministry of Transport seek Government approval for Sơn La Province to develop the Nà Sản Airport project after it refused to invest in the project due to a shortage of funding.
If approved, the upgraded airport project will be implemented in the form of a public-private partnership with total investment capital of VNĐ2 trillion (US$86.2 million).
Nà Sản Airport was built in 1950. It lies 187 kilometres from Hà Nội’s Nội Bài International Airport and 110km from Điện Biên Phủ Airport in northwestern Điện Biên Province.
The airport was shut down after a short operation time due to few passengers. In 1994, it reopened before closing down again in 2004 due to the deterioration of the runway, failing to meet safety standards.
Based on the Ministry of Transport’s plan, CAAV coordinated with the Airports Corporation of Việt Nam (ACV) and relevant units to map out a plan to rebuild the airport with a total investment of more than VNĐ1.98 trillion ($85.3 million). However, the project has not been implemented due to a shortage of funding.
In 2019, ACV continued proposing to build the Nà Sản Airport as planned, including a full flight zone, terminal, aircraft yard, and airport area with a total capital of VNĐ2.2 trillion ($94.8 million) but failed due to a capital shortage.
In March this year, Sơn La People’s Committee proposed the Ministry of Transport add the upgraded Nà Sản Airport project to the list of priority projects in 2021-2030. The province also asked the Prime Minister for permission to implement the project.
Under the Transport Ministry’s plan for the national airport system, pending the Prime Minister’s approval, the Nà Sản airport is projected to operate A320/A321 aircraft or the equivalent by 2030, serving 1 million passengers per year. By 2050, the airport’s capacity is expected to reach a capacity of 2 million passengers per year.
The project, oriented to mobilise social capital for investment in airport infrastructure, will classify Nà Sản Airport in Group 3 along with other airports such as Điện Biên, Đồng Hới, Pleiku, Buôn Ma Thuột, Rạch Giá, Cà Mau and Côn Đảo.
The Ministry of Transport will transfer the airfield and ACV transfer the other essential infrastructure works to the province to mobilise resources for development.
ACV refuses to build the Nà Sản Airport
In a document on the construction of the Nà Sản Airport in the new public-private partnership (PPP) method sent to the Ministry of Transport, the ACV said from the beginning of 2021, the State Capital Management Committee in enterprises had requested ACV not to propose investment in the Nà Sản Airport for the period 2021 - 2025.
In document 154 issued in February on reviewing the medium-term investment plan for 2021 - 2025, the committee requested the ACV to focus resources on investing in key projects, including Long Thành Airport, construction of Terminal T3 of Tân Sơn Nhất Airport, expansion of Terminal T2 at Nội Bài Airport, construction of Terminal T2 and aircraft parking area of Phú Bài Airport, the building and expansion of Điện Biên Airport and construction of a passenger terminal and airport terminal of Cát Bi Airport.
If it is necessary to invest in the Nà Sản Airport project in 2021-2025, the ACV will propose that the Ministry of Transport consider an appropriate investment form.
The Nà Sản Airport is located in Mai Sơn District in the northern mountainous of Sơn La Province. It will play an important role in ensuring national security, improving socio-economic development, creating a breakthrough in transport infrastructure, and attracting domestic and foreign investors. — VNS