The aviation sector and airports have contributed a significant part to spur the economic growth of localities as well as the country as a whole.

The International Air Travel Association (IATA) forecast that by 2035, Vietnam’s aviation sector would serve 136 million passengers and contribute $23 billion to GDP.

Despite ample growth potential in the sector, Vietnam’s current airport network remains fairly thin due to limited resources.

As of now, the country is just home to 22 airports of which 20 airports have been upgraded into civil airports from military ones. Just one airport was built by an investor from the private sector, Van Don International Airport.

More airports in need to aid aviation sector's growth prospects

Van Don International Airport, the single airport built with private investment.

The quality of airports is also worrisome. Many airports were built during wartime, acing remarkable quality deterioration and failing to keep up with development needs. Some have even been put for comprehensive overhauls, such as Con Dao Airport.

Several areas that are geographically isolated with difficult travel conditions like northwestern areas and the Central Highlands region are yet to have airports. Meanwhile, major airports like Noi Bai, Tan Son Nhat, and Danang have often incurred overload.

In the face of burgeoning demands for airway connection among localities, and between Vietnam and the rest of the world, reviewing to improve current airport system quality proves important.

Aside from investment expansion to upgrade existing airports which face overload, experts deem it necessary to expand the national airport network by complementing new and modern airports reaching international standards.

As the state budget remains finite, industry experts have voiced the need to diversify resources into airport development.

Nguyen Hong Thai, deputy director of the Faculty of Transport Economies from Hanoi-based University of Transport and Communications assumed that availing of assorted resources to partake in aviation infrastructure development to create breakthroughs, spur development, gradually shape up seamless transport infrastructure to facilitate inter-regional linkage proves a wise move.

“It is more convenient to call for social capital into new airport projects as these ones are often enshrined in the planning scheme. Private investors can join the game, along with the state's supervisory role, and from there work out fee levels and the timing for fee collection,” Thai opined.

In the short run, state functional bodies are reviewing to supplement new airport projects in areas deemed as lowlands in transport development yet having ample potential for tourism growth and visitor attraction.

This would allure equity investors to come on board and consider project investment efficiency. Before the pandemic, Vietnam’s aviation sector continually witnessed an exceptional growth pace averaging 15.8 per cent annually.

According to the IATA, this is one of the fastest worldwide, higher than the average growth pace in the Asia-Pacific region.

This year, Vietnam’s aviation transport saw a rebound, with many airports surpassing set exploitation capacity at their passenger terminals, such as Con Dao, Cat Bi, Phu Quoc, Lien Khuong, and Cam Ranh.

The IATA assessed that Vietnam has sat atop the list of 25 countries with the fastest rebound of the local airport market post-pandemic.

Source: VIR