The Long Thanh international airport project proposal has won approval of an evaluation council to go before the Government and the National Assembly (NA) although there are a number of issues needing clarifying, the Saigon Times Daily reported.

Thirteen of 16 members of the evaluation council voted in favour of the project, which permits Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) to send the project proposal to the Government for consideration before it is passed to the National Assembly for discussion at its next sitting slated to open next month, the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam said on its website.

Although the project got support from a majority of the council’s members, there are many points that project owner ACV has been unable to answer the council, which is chaired by Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh.

Firstly, ACV does not clarify in its investment report on the project the conditions and advantages for the planned Long Thanh International Airport in Dong Nai province to become an international transit hub for airlines.

Secondly, the council has not found a single sound reason why ACV would build one runway and one terminal able to handle 17 million passengers in the first phase of the project instead of two runways as it reported two months ago.

The third issue is how to find financing for the project.

Given the issues, the council suggested the Government order ACV to make clear the concerns before the Ministry of Transport forwards the project to the NA for consideration and approval.

The council was established according to the Prime Minister’s decision to assist the Government in assessing related investment reports before the project is passed to the NA for approval. Besides Minister Vinh, other members of the council are leaders of relevant ministries.

In a meeting earlier this month, Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang told the project owner to implement the project’s first phase that would develop one runway and one terminal with an annual designed capacity of some 17 million passengers.

Thang also required ACV to make clear funding sources such as State money, official development assistance (ODA) loans and private funds for each component of the project. For ODA loans, he suggested that the corporation take out ODA loans guaranteed by the Government and paid by the project owner or the corporation be permitted to gain direct access to ODA loans.

According to the government of Dong Nai province, about 3,320 of 5,380 houses would be cleared to make room for the airport project. The cost of site clearance and compensation was estimated at nearly 20.8 trillion VND in 2013.

In its previous report, ACV proposed completing Long Thanh airport’s first phase by 2020 with two runways for modern aircraft, including Airbus A380. This phase requires more than 7 billion USD.

In the second phase due for completion by 2030, the airport would have three runways able to handle 50 million passengers a year.

With the third phase due to be completed after 2030, there would be four runways in the airport, which are expected to handle up to 100 million passengers and five million tons of cargo annually.-VNA