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Nov 11, 2013 / 16:19

Ministry of Transport defends Long Thanh International Airport project

The Minister of Transport defended the need to build the controversial Long Thanh International Airport project while experts have already said that it is a huge waste.

Previously, the Ministry of Transport backed a USD8billion Long Thanh Airport plan in HCM City. According to the ministry's forecast, passengers going through Tan Son Nhat Airport would reach 20-25 million by 2018-2020. Tan Son Nhat Airport would be overloaded after 2020. The ministry added that the Long Thanh Airport would reach a capacity of 25 million passengers per year by 2020 and help reduce the overload at Tan Son Nhat Airport.

However, Nguyen Xuan Thanh, Director of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, said that they will definitely incur losses. They will have to spend a huge sum of money for construction and operations. In addition, the revenue from tickets and rental services will not recover the capital.

He went on to say that this was classified as a BOT project at first, but no investors went in on it. Meanwhile, the tourist growth rate, of both domestic and foreign visitors, at Tan Son Nhat Airport is not that urgent. In the period between 2001 and 2010, growth in the tourism market was 10.8% per year, but from 2011-2012, the number of tourists actually decreased by 4.9% a year.

This showed that Vietnam has not been successful in attracting international visitors. Thanh emphasised the ineffectiveness of the financial planning. "It is forecast that we will have an increase of 24 million tourists by 2020, but this number will not good for Long Thanh Airport's business," said Thanh.

Many experts have been opposed to this plan and said the government should expand other airports such as Bien Hoa, Lien Khuong and Tan Son Nhat instead.

In response, minister of transport Dinh La Thang said that it would be difficult to expand those airports while they will have more benefits in building a new one. For example, Bien Hoa Airport in Dong Nai Province not only serve military flights, it is also surrounded by residential areas, so expanding work is unfeasible.

He said, "In order to have an effective international airport, it must have large plot of land and prime location. This plan was approved by the Prime Minister. Long Thanh will become one of our top ten airports by 2020. With a vision to 2030, it will continue be expanded to replace Tan Son Nhat Airport and become Vietnam's largest international airport, reaching capacity of 80-100 million passengers per year."