US engineering giant Bechtel caused a stir in Vietnam this week by showing up to gather information about a plan to build the Long Thanh International Airport.
Vietnamese media jumped on the visit, speculating that Bechtel may be interested in taking an equity stake in the project, as well as acting as its project manager.
A Bechtel spokesperson told the Vietnam.net website that the trip was intended to gain better understanding of the project, including "issues of investment, construction, airport operation and development of an economic zone".
Work on the 5-sq-km airport is scheduled to begin in 2019. The first phase will result in a single-runway facility with a capacity of 25 million by 2025. The second phase, to be completed between 2030 and 2035, will bring that up to 50 million and the third would double it again to 100 million by 2050.
The total cost of the airport is expected to be about $16bn, with investment in the first phase making up about $5.5bn of that figure.
Economic and political relations between the US and Vietnam have warmed in recent years. The US lifted its 41-year arms embargo this year, and in May the VietJet carrier announced that it was buying a hundred Boeing 737s at a cost of $11.3bn.
Image: Paris Aéroport and Japan Airports Consultants drew up this masterplan for Long Thanh International Airport (ADPI)