Despite the dramatic downturn in air traffic due to the pandemic, Vietnam has begun to construct a new international airport near Ho Chi Minh City's commercial powerhouse.
Despite an uncertain future for the airline industry, the country will also expand the city's current airport.
The ambitious airport projects in Ho Chi Minh City would increase passenger capacity by 150%. But several experts say that these two huge investments have posed significant questions about the pandemic.
In 2015, the National Assembly, the national Parliament, approved the development of the Long Thanh International Airport in Dong Nai Province, 40 km east of the city.
Phase 1 includes the construction of a 4-km runway, passenger terminals and other services for 25 million passengers annually for a cost of $4.6 billion. In 2025, the airport is to open.
According to the Airports Corporation of Vietnam, Long Thanh is to be built in three phases with a total investment of $16 billion.
It will be one of the largest airports in Southeast Asia when totally completed by 2040 and will have four runways, four terminals for passengers, and an annual passenger capacity of 100 million – roughly the same sizes as the population in the country.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc proclaimed it to be "one of the largest infrastructure projects" at a groundbreaking ceremony in January.
At the same time, the new international airport of Tan Son Nhat is being enlarged over $500 million in investments. Construction on a third terminal will begin in summer. The growth in capacity is set to rise from 70% to 50 million passengers per year by the year 2023.
Industry experts are already forecasting that air travel will recover slowly in 2021 and the near future. Some industry leaders suggest that, in response to an unpredictable market, Vietnam should postpone airport projects.
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