The project on building Long Thanh International Airport in the southern province of Dong Nai has received particular interest, with the Party’s 13th Central Committee’s 11th plenum deeming it a national project of special importance and the National Assembly’s 9th session embracing its implementation.

The airport, set to become an international aviation hub, is expected to meeting the rapid growth of the aviation market, serving socio-economic development in the southern key economic region, thus enabling the country to make the most of its economic and tourism advantages.

The southern key economic region with Ho Chi Minh City as the gateway, now accounts for 46 percent of the national passenger volume. The Ho Chi Minh City-based Tan Son Nhat international airport has been operating at full capacity – 20 million passengers per year- since 2013 and is now being upgraded to raise its capacity to 25 million passengers per year. However, it is forecast that Tan Son Nhat will become overloaded in 2017.

According to the Ministry of Transport, the upgrade of Tan Son Nhat airport to handle 40-50 million passengers is unfeasible, because it needs a vast area of 641ha in Tan Binh, Go Vap and Phu Nhuan districts and a lofty cost of about 9.1 billion USD, exclusive of expenses for reconstruction of technical and transport infrastructure.

Another alternative - expansion of Bien Hoa military airport and increased utilisation of some airports in the south is also less viable since they play separate roles in each economic region and ensuring national defence and security, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, Long Thanh airport will lie at the heart of Southeast Asia, a good location to serve the transition of passengers and cargo.

In addition, Vietnam, with a population of more than 90 million, is forecast to see rapid growth in air passengers. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) said that Vietnam will rank third among 10 Asia-Pacific countries to see the highest number of air passengers. This is an advantage for Long Thanh airport in competing against other facilities in the region.

Therefore, the investment in Long Thanh airport is urgent and necessary, experts said.-VNA