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City says impossible to expand Vietnam’s biggest airport to avoid overload

Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport is forecast to become overloaded by 2017, but it is infeasible to expand what is now the largest airport in Vietnam, the municipal administration has said.

Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport is forecast to become overloaded by 2017, but it is infeasible to expand what is now the largest airport in Vietnam, the municipal administration has said.
Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport is forecast to become overloaded by 2017, but it is infeasible to expand what is now the largest airport in Vietnam, the municipal administration has said.

A multibillion-dollar international airport is expected to be built in Long Thanh District, in the southern province of Dong Nai, to share the burden of Tan Son Nhat, but the Ho Chi Minh City administration said the new airport should be commissioned as soon as possible in order to do so.

Long Thanh is about 50km away from the southern economic hub.

Tan Son Nhat airport is designed to receive at most 25 million passengers a year, and is slated to reach this threshold by the end of 2017, the southern city’s government said in a report recently submitted to the National Assembly Economic Committee.

But Long Thanh airport will not enter its first phase of operation until 2023, when it will be capable of serving 17 million passengers a year.

Tan Son Nhat is thus expected to be operating at an overloaded capacity for six years, between 2017 and 2023.

The southern metropolis thus called on the Ministry of Transport, the developer of the Long Thanh airport project, to adjust its schedule so that the new terminal can be commissioned sooner.

Tan Son Nhat can avoid overloading if it is expanded, but the Ho Chi Minh City government has said the expansion project is against the central government-approved construction plan of the city from now to 2015.

The 1,500-hectare currently handles some 20 million passengers a year.

In order to be able to serve 50 million passengers per annum, the airport must be expanded to the north, which requires clearing a 641-hectare area and compensating a huge amount of money to relocate residents living there, the administration said in the report.

The site clearance would affect 140,000 households in the area, while the city does not have any relocation plan for them, according to the report.

The expansion project is estimated to cost US$9.15 billion, with the relocation compensation calculated based on the land prices announced by the city’s government.

If the compensation is required to be based on the market land prices, the total investment will be much bigger, the city warned.

While the traffic system around the airport is already overloaded, the expanded terminal would only exacerbate traffic congestion there, it added.

The expansion project would also cause severe impacts on the environment, and affect the future urban planning of the city, the administration concluded.