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Hà Nội to get $5.5b airport expansion

Update: June, 01/2016 - 09:25
Nội Bài International Airport in Hà Nội. Photo

HÀ NỘI Hà Nội is planning a massive US$5.5 billion expansion project for Nội Bài Airport to brace against overloading that is expected in just a few years, said an official.

In an interview with the Government online newspaper (VGP News) published on Monday, Civil Aviation Authority of Việt Nam (CAAV) Head Lại Xuân Thanh said that a “Nội Bài 2” airport was planned on a 720ha site across from the current one.

Land clearance costs and expenses to build resettlement apartments for local residents who have to move because of the project reached about $2 billion, according to Thanh.

Authorities estimated another VNĐ78 trillion ($3.46 billion) will be spent on the new airport infrastructure including the terminals, taxiing lanes and parking areas.

Thanh said that expansion work on the airport was “urgent” as Nội Bài was bound to fall into a serious overcrowding situation like the current HCM City’s Tân Sơn Nhất Airport in as little as three years.

“Nội Bài airport has been experiencing tremendous growth, reaching 22 per cent in 2015 and already climbing to 31 per cent in the first four months of this year”, he said.

Such growth was not due to lose steam in the near future as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) projected Việt Nam to be the 10th fastest-growing market in terms of additional passengers by 2034.

Over the last decade, air transport in Việt Nam has seen remarkable growth due to a constant rise in the wealth of the middle-class, who now can afford more plane tickets, as well as a diverse airliner pool with a number of budget carriers. Local Vietjet Air, Thailand’s Nok Air and Malaysia’s AirAsia have expanded their operations and are opening new air routes in the country.   

An increasing number of Vietnamese now have a chance to experience the services that once used to be luxurious, however authorities and airliners have been struggling to meet the industry’s demands as airport infrastructure fails to catch up with the booming growth.

Tân Sơn Nhất Airport - the biggest airport in the southern region - last year received more than 26.5 million passengers, already surpassing the capacity initially planned for 2020, according to the CAAV.

Vietnam Airlines Corporation – which owns the flag-carrier Vietnam Airlines – has even projected that the number of passengers Tân Sơn Nhất airport will welcome in 2018 is likely to reach 40 million, the assumed capacity cap of the airport that is very hard to raise.

Meanwhile, the new $16 billion Long Thành airport aims to alleviate airport overcrowding but will not begin operations until 2025 – nine years from now if no delays take place.

Second Long Thành

Thanh called the Nội Bài expansion project the “second Long Thành” but would face even more difficulties due to land shortage.

The Nội Bài 2 airport would stretch to the south across three communes of Phú Minh, Phú Cường and Mai Đình of the Sóc Sơn District, which has a high population density, he said.

Yet that was the only option that would leave enough land to build the new terminal and ensure having independent runways in line with the Ha Noi general transport plan by 2030, approved by the Prime Minister in March.

“The land clearance work will be very hard,” Thanh warned.

According to the general transport plan, Nội Bài Airport will be able to receive 35 million passengers a year by 2030 and up to 50 million after 2030.

Its new terminal, T2, was opened last January for international flights, helping in the short-term to tackle the overloading issue that is expected to continue for some time. – VNS  

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