A proposal to build a VND5.8 trillion (US$257 million) airport near Sa Pa has been backed by several ministries, and work is set to start in the third quarter once it receives government approval.
The 261-hectare airport will have a terminal and space to park two Airbus A320s or other similar aircraft, according to a proposal by the northern province of Lao Cai, home to the popular tourist town.
It will be able to handle 560,000 passengers and 600 tons of cargo a year in its first stage before being expanded to thrice that size after 2030.
The airport is expected to handle flights to and from Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Nghe An Province in the central region, and the northern city of Hai Phong.
Lao Cai has sought approval to sign up real estate conglomerate Sun Group for developing most of the airport’s infrastructure under a build-transfer agreement, news website Saigon Times Online said Monday.
Private developers signing a built-transfer agreement with the government normally get lands worth a certain value for other projects.
But Sun Group, which has expressed interest in several public infrastructure works, wants instead to operate some of the airport’s infrastructure like the terminal and fuel storage for an agreed time, according to the website.
Vietnam has 22 airports, but only Tan Son Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City and Noi Bai in Hanoi are profitable, the country's sole airports manager, Airports Corporation of Vietnam, reported last year.
Under a national aviation plan approved seven years ago, Vietnam will have 26 airports, including 10 international ones, by 2020. The government also plans to build several small airports for helicopters and short-haul aircraft.