Vietnam PM complains about flagship airport delays

©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier
Construction of Long Thanh Airport in southern Vietnam, one of the most ambitious projects in the country’s history, has not progressed following the project’s groundbreaking ceremony on 5 January last year, news site VNExpress reports.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh complained about the hold up during a tour of the site earlier this month. Saying the situation was “troublesome”, he commented: “Even the office of the project management board has yet to be built. Can the project be completed within the next four years as planned?”

Long Thanh is to be located on a site in Dong Nai Province, about 40km east of Ho Chi Minh City. It is being developed by Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV), which has raised some $6.1bn to carry it out.

The first phase will have one 4km-long runway with a width of 75m, and a 373,000-sq-m terminal designed to serve 25 million passengers and 1.2 million tonnes of cargo a year.

This phase is expected to be complete in 2025. Two further phases will then be undertaken, and are due to finish before 2040. These will add three more runways and four passenger terminals, allowing the airport to accommodate 100 million passengers and 5 million tons of cargo.

At present, ACV is clearing mines and other ordnance left over from the war, as well as levelling the ground and constructing access roads. However, more than a year after the work began, only fencing and demining have been done and site levelling has yet to start.

Lai Xuan Thanh, chairman of the ACV, said after the PM’s visit that his company is working with its consultants to speed up progress. He added that the first phase would be ready for operation no later than September 2025.

“We have ordered the contractor to speed up the work and level the ground for the terminals in five months and for the runways, taxiways and aprons in 15 months,” he said.

One cause for the delay is that all the required land acquisition has not been completed. Of the 2,500ha required for the first phase, Dong Nai Province authorities have handed over less than 1,500ha.

Vo Tan Duc, the province’s deputy chairman, has assured that the remaining portion would be handed over in the first quarter and the ACV would receive the lands needed for the entire project within three months after that.

When complete, Long Thanh will replace Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat airport as Vietnam’s largest.

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