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Consultant proposes not adding new airports by 2030

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HCMC – The consultant of the national airport development plan in the 2021-2030 period with a vision to 2050 has proposed that new airport projects should not be added to the airport system by 2030 already approved by the prime minister as too many provinces have proposed developing airports.

By 2050, the consultant proposed developing only Cao Bang airport, the local media reported.

Based on the economic efficiency of the operational airports and the experience of other countries, the consultant has listed out six main criteria for the necessity and feasibility of new airports, comprising demand, contribution to socioeconomic development, national defense and emergency, natural conditions and their distance to central urban areas and adjacent airports.

Based on these criteria, the consultant concluded that with 28 airports approved by the prime minister, 96% of Vietnam’s population can access airports within a distance of 100 kilometers, higher than the world’s average of 75%.

The Ministry of Transport is consulting other relevant ministries, agencies and localities over the plan.

Over the past few months, Binh Phuoc and Bac Giang have suggested developing their military airports into those used for both civil and military purposes, while Ninh Binh and Ha Giang have suggested building new airports.

In 2020, the Ministry of Transport also received proposals to develop airports in Cao Bang, Ha Tinh, Ninh Thuan and Bac Lieu provinces which argued that the airport development would serve the socioeconomic development and ensure national defense.

At present, the residents of these provinces use the airports of neighboring provinces within a distance of 70 to 150 kilometers. For example, it is some 120 kilometers from Ninh Binh to the Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi and nearly 100 kilometers to the Tho Xuan Airport in Thanh Hoa and the Cat Bi Airport in Haiphong.

The distance from Binh Phuoc to the Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCMC is also nearly 130 kilometers.

Associate Professor Nguyen Thien Tong from the HCMC University of Technology said provinces should develop small airports for small aircraft with less than 20 seats for rescue, national defense and tourism. They can take advantage of old military airports and call on private firms to get involved in these projects.

However, policies to encourage air carriers to operate small aircraft should be issued first.

Among the 22 operational airports across the country, only six airports have reported profits, including Noi Bai, Tan Son Nhat, Danang, Cam Ranh, Lien Khuong and Phu Bai.

According to Tran Quang Chau, chairman of the Vietnam Association on Aviation Science and Technology, compared with other countries in the region and the world, the number of civil airports in Vietnam is small and provinces’ proposals to develop airports are legitimate.

However, the development of new airports should be based on many criteria and suit the country’s airport system.

Meanwhile, Dr. Nguyen Bach Tung, an aviation expert, said most of local airports have yet to reach their full capacities. Therefore, the investment in new airports should be weighed carefully. The competent agencies should consider many factors before deciding if new airports should be built.

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