The official conceptual design of Long Thanh Airport. Photo credit: CAAV
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam on Saturday denied accusations that the design of an airport set to become the country's biggest was a copycat of a Hong Kong airport.
The agency, also known as CAAV, issued a press release just one day after Tran Dinh Ba, an architect who has protested the project of building Long Thanh Airport since it was proposed a few years ago, made the claim on several media outlets.
Ba was quoted as saying that CAAV and its designers have been using the digital rendering image of Chek Lap Kok Airport in their presentations of the project.
Since the Hong Kong Airport has been ranked one of the world's best for many years, the plagiarized beautiful design can distract many from the fiscal problems of the project, he said.
CAAV, however, said Ba made his accusation based on images from the media, and not from the agency.
While conceding that that the image recently published by local media was of Chek Lap Kok Airport, CAAV said it did not provide any image of Long Thanh Airport's design to the press.
The press is responsible for the images used in stories about the airport, it said.
Japanese and French consultants first produced the conceptual design of Long Thanh in 2011, after the plan was approved by the government, according to CAAV's press release.
The initial design, which outlined four runways and terminals in a typical way that many big airports in the world have applied, has been used to calculate the project's total costs, it said.
Detailed designs will not be drafted until the project's feasibility study is approved, it added.
The government plans to build Long Thanh in the southern province of Dong Nai with US$5.2 billion. The state will fund 11 percent, while the rest will come from international creditors and private investors.
The airport is designed to serve 38 million passengers annually when it goes into operation in 2025.
It will replace Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat, the country’s largest airport at the moment. Tan Son Nhat reached its maxium capacity of 20 million passengers a year at the end of 2013.
Speaking to news website Dan Tri, CAAV chief Lai Xuan Thanh said his agency will send a complaint letter to where Ba is working.
Although Ba has the right to say what he thinks, the project is of "national importance" so he should not have made such a "careless" claim, he said.
Ba, who claims to be a member of Hanoi-based Vietnam Economic Association with knowledge and experience about aviation, is among protesters who deem the project of Long Thanh airport as unnecessary and possibly a waste of money.
He believed that the new airport could force Vietnam to face a huge debt.
Since 2012, he has promoted a straight north-south air route through Laos and Cambodia to connect Hanoi and HCMC, claiming that the route will cut travel time by 26 minutes from the current route's duration.
He also believes that it will help save more than $300 million in fuel and other costs every year.
However, CAAV has continuously dismissed Ba's proposal as unfeasible.