Vietnam eyes foreign investment in aviation

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A Vietjet Air aircraft at Tan San Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam is calling for foreign investment in the aviation sector, particularly for building new airports, as demand for air transport continues to grow at a rapid pace.

Le Manh Hung, general director of the Airports Corporation of Vietnam, the national airport operator that was established in February, said the country has 21 airports but many of them need to be upgraded and expanded.

The government used to provide funds for the construction of airports, which are big-ticket projects, but it is now necessary to attract foreign investment, he said at a conference on aviation cooperation between the US and Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday.

Deputy Minister of Transport Pham Quy Tieu said Vietnam's aviation sector is promising, with an average annual growth of 15 percent in passenger transport and 12 percent in goods transport.

The country has five carriers that fly to 15 countries, and their fleets are expected to expand to 150 aircraft in total by 2015, he said.

Plans are underway to start building the Van Don International Airport in the northern province of Quang Ninh next year at an estimated VND5.1 trillion (US$244.6 million).

Work on the $10-billion Long Thanh International Airport outside HCMC is expected to start in 2015.

Sarah E. Kemp, senior commercial officer at the US embassy in Hanoi, said in a statement released at the conference that aviation is a critical industry for both countries and a key component in their partnership.

"The US and Vietnam's interaction and cooperation in this area are already robust," she said.

"The US Commercial Service is pleased to be working so closely with the government of Vietnam and with the private sectors of both our countries to help Vietnam achieve its ambitious aviation development goals."

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