Vietnamese national assembly delegates have urged the government to expedite its approval for the construction of $15.8bn Long Thanh International Airport outside Ho Chi Minh City.
Vietnam is considering the construction of the airport to address the increasing need for additional passenger capacity. Upon completion, the new airport would accommodate an estimated 100 million people.
Tan Son Nhat is the only international airport in the Ho Chi Minh City. Built inside the city of Saigon during the Vietnam War, its location restricts expansion at the airport.
Having a capacity of 25 million passengers, the airport is witnessing an annual growth rate of 15%. It is estimated that the airport will over-run its capacity in 2017.
Hai Phong lawmaker Tran Ngoc Vinh was quoted by Tuoi Tre news as saying: "Our country needs an advanced airport on par with the world, soon. If we're late, we lose this golden opportunity."
The country intends to transform the new airport into a regional hub as an answer to competition from Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok.
The Vietnam News quoted a deputy from Quang Binh Province Nguyen Ngoc Phuong as saying that starting construction of the new airport by 2016 is critical as the old airport would soon reach its capacity.
Construction of the new airport would be carried out in three phases. While the first phase is expected to cost around $5.2bn, the second phase that will run from 2030 to 2035 will cost an estimated $4bn.
The country is hoping to attract foreign investors for the new airport project.
According to Reuters, French airport authority Aeroports de Paris has shown interest in becoming a strategic partner of Airports Corporation of Vietnam to manage the airport.
Image: The Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Saigon is expected to reach its capacity by 2017. Photo: courtesy of Luu Ly.