Airport development planning should prioritise investment in key projects and have rigorous standards for project approval, experts have said.
|Tan Son Nhat Airport faces with shortcomings in taking off and landing slots for aeroplanes. — VNA/VNS Photo|
According to a draft master plan on the development of the national airport network to 2030 with a vision to 2050 from the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV), Vietnam is set to 26 airports by 2030, including 14 international airports. The number could reach 30 by 2050, including 15 international airports and 15 domestic airports.
Total investment for planned airports in 2020-2030 is estimated at about VND365.1 trillion (US$15.87 billion), with an additional VND866.36 trillion needed for 2030-2050.
The capital will come from official development assistance (ODA), the State budget, and also be mobilised from loans from financial institutions and public-private partnership projects.
In 2030-2050, four new airports will be prioritised for development, including the second one in Hanoi and three others in Lai Chau City of Lai Chau Province, Na San of Son La Province, and Cao Bang City of Cao Bang Province. All of them are in the north.
Also in the draft master plan, some provinces and cities have proposed developing airports in 2021-2030 by converting facilities from military airports into civil airports such as Ninh Binh, Binh Phuoc, Bac Giang, Ha Giang, Ninh Thuan and Ha Tinh provinces, according to the Ministry of Transport.
Meanwhile, others have proposed converting their existing domestic airports into international airports, including Lien Khuong Airport in Da Lat City, Buon Ma Thuot in Dak Lak Province, Phu Cat in Binh Dinh Province and Tuy Hoa in Phu Yen Province.
A representative from Transport Engineering Design Inc (TEDI) said the necessity and feasibility of a new airport will be decided based on six major criteria including travel demand, socio-economic development, national defence, natural conditions, and distance to other nearby airports.
Vietnam’s airports are mostly harmoniously distributed nationwide, but in the northwestern and Central Highlands regions, people do not have an airport within a radius of 100km or some airports have lower/higher demand than designed capacity. Those issues should be considered carefully, said the representative.
According to Dinh Viet Thang, head of the CAAV, the Ministry of Transport is collecting recommendations on the development of airports relating to four major issues, namely the number of airports, their structure and scale of airports and the State’s policies on airport development.
At present, 22 out of 63 provinces and cities have replied to the ministry about those issues and many localities proposed adding airports to the State’s airport development planning, Thang said.
The administration’s point of view is that airports should not be developed en masse and the plan should concentrate investment in key projects and projects with large capacity and scale, he said.
According to Bui Van Vo from the Vietnam Association of Aviation Science and Technology, the draft planning mainly aims to develop the system of airports serving commercial flights but does not include general and specialised aviation activities, reported the Vietnam News Agency.
At present, most airports in Vietnam are mixed civil and military airports, so it is necessary to assess military flight operations in the planning. The plan also needs to determine which airports will be civil airports and to add specialised airport systems to the plan, Vo said.
Tran Kim Chung, Deputy Director of the Central Institute for Economic Management, said connecting infrastructure of other types of transport to aviation infrastructure must be considered in airport planning and investment.
The Ministry of Transport said demand for aviation transport by 2030 will be 276 million passengers and 4 million tonnes of cargo. Those figures will increase to 650 million passengers and 16 million tonnes of cargo by 2050.
Vietnam currently has 22 airports, including nine international airports and 13 domestic airports, and no major transhipment airports at the international level.
With a strong certainty that air travel will recovery when the pandemic ends, airports are seen as long-term asset. In that case, any decision related to airport projects must be for the long-term view.
Enhanced transport infrastructure would help expand the development to Hanoi’s southern part and form economic triangles of Hanoi – Hai Phong – Quang Ninh and Hanoi – Thanh Hoa – Nghe An.