The construction of the megaproject Long Thanh international airport in the southern province of Dong Nai, Vietnam, will cost an estimated $18bn, according to deputy transport minister Nguyen Hong Truong.

The project, which will be carried out in three phases, is being planned to lessen the burden of Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.

Nguyen Xuan Thanh, director of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program in Ho Chi Minh City also proposed that the government should consider closing down the old airport so that its land can be used instead of operating two airports.

Truong said that the government will contribute around $3.98bn (VND84.62trillion), funded by government bonds and official development assistance (ODA) loans to the total investment for the first phase of the megaproject, estimated to cost around $7.83bn (VND164.57 trillion). A part of the investment will also be used to relocate 500,000 people.

"It is expected that the Tan Son Nhat airport will be overloaded by the year 2017."

Tuoi Tre News quoted Truong as saying: "The transport ministry has stated clearly in the report submitted to the National Assembly Standing Committee that borrowing ODA loans would only result in a 0.029% increase in public debt.

"The ODA loans to fund the Long Thanh airport account for only 0.1% out of the total such loans for other infrastructure projects."

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Truong also said that the government will put in money for the project to allocate site clearance and compensation and basic infrastructure construction, such as traffic systems and the airport’s taxiways and aprons.

It is expected that the Tan Son Nhat airport will be overloaded by the year 2017. The airport currently serves 20 million passengers annually. By the end of 2015, the 5,000-hectare airport is expected to receive 25 million passengers a year during its first phase.