Vietnam’s National Assembly has approved the construction of Long Thanh International Airport outside Ho Chi Minh City.
The $16bn project will be built 40km northeast of south Vietnam’s largest city in the province of Dong Na. When complete in 2025 it will have a capacity of 38 million, a figure that is projected to rise to 100 million by 2035.
The immediate aim of the project is to relieve pressure on Tan Son Nhat, which has a capacity of 25 million but had 22 million passengers in 2014. It is due to reach its limit in 2017 as visitor numbers to Vietnam grow by more than 15% a year.
Work will begin on the first phase in 2018; this will handle 25 million passengers a year at a cost of $5.2bn.
Once Long Thanh becomes operational, Tan Son Nhat will be used mainly for domestic flights.
The cost of the first phase of the scheme was previously estimated to be £7.8bn. The Vietnamese government said in a statement: "The project’s funding will come from the state budget, the aviation sector, official development assistance, enterprises and other sources."
French operator Aéroports de Paris Sahas has expressed an interest in becoming a strategic partner with the state-run Airports Corporation of Vietnam.
The scheme has been under discussion for more than 10 years, and the original masterplan was approved by prime minister Phan Van Khai in 2006.
The government of Vietnam has said that it intends Long Thanh eventually to challenge Suvarnabhumi in Thailand and Changi in Singapore as the international hub for southeast Asia.
Image: Tan Son Nhat airport, Vietman (LÆ°u Ly/Wikimedia Commons)