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Third runway deemed feasible for Tan Son Nhat airport

Le Anh
Friday,  Jun 16,2017,00:36 (GMT+7)
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Third runway deemed feasible for Tan Son Nhat airport

Le Anh

A view of Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Several experts assert that it is feasible to build a third runway at Tan Son Nhat International Airport to increase its capacity by a half - PHOTO: LE ANH

HCMC – Several experts assert that it is feasible to build a third runway at Tan Son Nhat International Airport to increase its capacity by a half, following the Prime Minister’s instruction for relevant agencies to make a study in this regard. The primary concern is how to mobilize at least US$5 billion for this project.

Late last week, many National Assembly (NA) deputies urged the Government to scrap the golf course project covering 157 hectares in the premises of the airport for the airport expansion project. In response, the Prime Minister demanded that all supporting components of the golf course be put on hold, and urged the Ministry of Transport to work with a consultant over the possibility of developing the third runway.

Upon the instruction, Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) chief Lai Xuan Thanh said his agency would soon map out a plan to choose an international consultant to make the study for submission to the Government.

Third runway under consideration

Thanh of CAAV said construction of the third runway at the airport as suggested by the Government is quite possible from a technical perspective. However, many factors must be taken into account, including cost, construction time, and traffic connection with the airport.

Consultants have recently laid out seven scenarios for expanding the airport, and four of such scenarios include construction of the third runway.

One notable scenario is to build the third runway in the airport’s northern part where the golf course is located. The new runway would be 1.8 kilometers from the existing runway, thus allowing the two nearest runways to operate independently. This scheme also includes construction of two terminals and other auxiliary works at the site of the golf course.

This scheme requires a total of over VND201 trillion, or US$9 billion, and construction will take over 15 years. Thanh said some 626 hectares of land must be cleared, including 322 hectares of nearby residential land currently populated by 140,000 families.

In another scheme, if the third runway is to be located 1,500 meters from the existing runway, the total cost would fall to VND187 trillion, and only 68,000 homes would be removed.

In case the third runway is to be located further southward, some 760 meters from the existing runway, then the cost would dip to VND152 trillion and 42,000 families would be affected. All these schemes would take 10 to 15 years to carry out.

Thanh, however, noted that the International Civil Aviation Organization has advised that the two parallel runways should be built no less than 1,750 meters apart to allow for their independent operation.


Addressing the NA session in Hanoi last Wednesday, Minister of Transport Truong Quang Nghia commented that expanding the airport northward – which means clearing the golf course – would be unfeasible due to high site clearance cost and noise pollution.

Meanwhile, Do Tat Binh, deputy director of Airports Corporation of Vietnam, said in Giao Thong newspaper that building the third runway is impossible due to the densely-populated areas at both ends of the planned runway. Other airports, in Australia and Japan for instance, do not face this sticky problem because beyond both ends of the runway are the ocean.

However, several experts said building a runway stretching 2,600 meters on the golf course is quite suitable and private homes shall not be cleared.

Nguyen Thanh Trung, a veteran pilot, said the third runway needs not to be as long as the two existing runways at over 3,000 meters. A 2,600-meter runway will be suitable for medium-haul airplanes to land and take off, he said.

“Narita Airport in Japan has a runway stretching only 2,400 meters and cannot be further extended because it is stonewalled by residential areas. However, with this limited length, the runway could still handle normal landings and takeoffs,” Trung said.

However, Trung stressed that the key problem at Tan Son Nhat is limited terminal and parking space. If the golf course is to be redeemed, terminals and parking areas should be developed first to ease congestion.

Mai Trong Tuan, another veteran pilot, also assured that construction of the third runway does not necessarily require clearance of residential areas. Tuan said that Tan Son Nhat already has a 3,800-meter runway for jumbo jets on long-haul flights, so an additional 2,600-meter runway will be sufficient.

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Giấy phép Báo điện tử số: 321/GP-BTTT, cấp ngày 26/10/2007
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