HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnamese lawmakers called for speedy approval of a $15.8 billion airport on Thursday to get construction started and address chronic capacity shortages in one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets.
The Long Thanh International Airport outside the economic hub Ho Chi Minh City would be Vietnam’s most ambitious infrastructure project yet and aims to eventually handle 100 million passengers and five billion tonnes of goods a year.
Vietnam wants Long Thanh to be a regional transit hub to rival Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok and plans to build it in three separate phases from 2018-2050, starting with $5.2 billion from 2018-2025.
The airport was discussed during a National Assembly session on Thursday attended by Vietnam’s state-controlled media, which reported broad support to approve the project within a month. Foreign media are not permitted to cover legislative proceedings.
“Our country needs an advanced airport on par with the world, soon,” Tuoi Tre news quoted Hai Phong lawmaker Tran Ngoc Vinh as telling the house. “If we’re late, we lose this golden opportunity.”
Ho Chi Minh City delegate Tran Du Lich said a decision on the airport should be made right away and the details and costs thrashed out later.
“The efficiency maths test needs to be calculated carefully and in the long-term,” the government’s news website quoted him saying.
The idea of the airport was first floated a decade ago and is expected to attract large foreign interest in contracts from construction and technology to services and retail.
France’s Aeroports de Paris SA has already approached Vietnam’s government with a view to becoming a strategic partner with state-run Airports Corporation of Vietnam, the Vietnam News Agency reported in March.
According to preliminary figures given to lawmakers, the second phase of Long Thanh would be built from 2030 to 2035, costing $4 billion. The third stage would run from 2040 to 2050, worth $6.6 billion.
The initial cost of the region’s newest hub, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, was $4.6 billion with annual capacity of 45 million passengers. Singapore’s Changi Airport plans to double yearly capacity to 130 million passengers in a decade.
Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport opened a second terminal last year worth $900 million, nearly doubling its capacity to 22 million passengers.
Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Martin Petty and Dominic Evans