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City mulls measures for airport expansion

Update: July, 12/2017 - 09:00
HCM City authorities are considering plans to expand Tân Sơn Nhất airport, the country’s busiest airport. — VNS Photo Phương Vy
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — HCM City authorities are considering ways to expand Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport, including building more passenger terminals and speeding up approved expansion projects on military land.

Speaking at a meeting with city leaders and the Transport Ministry on Monday, Bùi Xuân Cường, director of the city’s Transport Department, said the area around the airport was still severely overloaded despite improvements made by the city.

The number of passengers reached 32.5 million last year, an increase of 20 per cent compared to 2015, translating to a rise of 28 per cent over the previously set target of 25 million passengers a year by 2020.

In the first half of the year, the number reached 18.3 million passengers, up 12 per cent against same period last year.

As the roads to the airport need to converge at the sole entrance to the airport on Trường Sơn Street in Tân Bình District, more passenger terminals are needed to access other sides of the airport, experts have said.

Under a plan approved by the Transport Ministry, the airport would be accessed via a mixed-use terminal on Hoàng Hoa Thám Street in Tân Bình District.

However, this street and many connected streets remain overloaded, so the plan has been shelved for its impracticality.

As an alternative, the Transport Department has asked the Transport Ministry to build more terminal access to the airport on Thống Nhất, Tân Sơn and Quang Trung streets in Gò Vấp District or on Trường Chinh and Phạm Văn Bạch streets in Tân Bình District.

The department said that having more terminals access to the airport would help reduce the traffic pressure on the Trường Sơn Street.   

Last February, the Ministry of Defence agreed to hand over some military land areas near the airport to the city authorities to carry out projects aiming at reducing congestion around the airport, but that has yet to materialise.

The transport department has urged the defence ministry to direct responsible units to hand over the land soon for the city to quickly implement the projects.

The military land would be used to expand Tân Sơn and Hoàng Hoa Thám streets, and to build a flyover at the Nguyễn Thái Sơn – Nguyễn Kiệm intersection in Gò Vấp District, among others.   

A 1.3ha area inside the airport would be used to build a reservoir, an important project to prevent flooding.

The city’s Transport Department has also urged the Transport Ministry to start construction of the reservoir inside the airport in addition to other drainage projects around the airport.

Minister of Transport Trương Quang Nghĩa said the number of passengers passing through Tân Sơn Nhất airport could reach as high as 36 million by the end of this year.

The city must quickly seek solutions to expand the airport to meet the demand of 43-45 million passengers in the next few years, he said.

Nghĩa said in addition to increasing the capacity of Tân Sơn Nhất airport, the ministry and other agencies were trying to speed up the project to build Long Thành International Airport in Đồng Nai Province, with a completion date set to 2025.

The Ministry of Defence had handed over nearly 20 hectares of its land for construction of taxi roads and aircraft parking for Tân Sơn Nhất airport.

The Ministry of Transport was also working with consultancy agencies for HCM City to build a system of flyovers connecting to the airport, he added.

Speaking at the meeting, vice chairman of HCM City People’s Committee Lê Văn Khoa said the city would consult experts and agencies to seek the optimal solutions for the airport expansion plan.

Traffic congestion

Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport in HCM City’s Tân Bình District has faced a range of issues, including severe congestion at its entrance and an insufficient number of runways, taxiways and aprons.

A lack of facilities to serve an ever increasing number of new aircraft and passengers is also plaguing the airport.

Many airlines are expanding their fleets so quickly that the infrastructure cannot keep pace, according to airport authorities.

There are two runways, but only one can handle both take-offs and landings, meaning aircraft often have to wait in line to land or take off.

Recently, a flyover leading to domestic and international terminals at Tân Sơn Nhất airport in HCM City opened to traffic and is expected to ease congestion around the airport.

The Y-shaped steel structure stands above Trường Sơn Street in Tân Bình District before forking towards the two terminals.

The branches leading to the domestic and international terminals are 50m and 300m long, respectively.

The 7.5m-wide flyover cost VNĐ242 billion (US$10.66 million).

Tân Sơn Nhất airport is now in its second phase of an international passenger terminal expansion project and an upgrade of the 25R/07L runway and taxi roads.

During construction, the 25R/07L runway will be closed. Aircraft will operate on the other runway, which will affect the operation of airlines.

Nguyễn Thiện Tống, an aviation expert, said that airport authorities must prepare for rescheduling of flights affected by the upgrade and renovation process.

A number of flights were expected to be delayed or canceled, which could affect many passengers, he said. — VNS

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