Vietnam targets local investors with privatization of airports

Thanh Nien News

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Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat Airport. File photo

The Ministry of Transport has announced that rights to operate airport services will be sold first to local investors, ending the recent controversy over who should be allowed to enter the business when Vietnam privatizes its aviation sector. 
Once the ministry becomes experienced and prepares sufficient legal bases for such sales, it will consider transferring the rights to foreign investors as well, Vietnam News Agency quoted Transport Minister Dinh La Thang as saying at a recent meeting.
Thang said his ministry will carry out privatization plans with one airport at a time, and every plan will have to be approved by the government as well as the Ministry of Defense, since aviation infrastructure is also related to national security.
Flight management, flying areas, and any infrastructure that is linked to military and national security will not be included in privatization plans, the minister said.
He also promised that transfers will be carried out transparently and fairly with prices to be calculated in accordance with laws. And for airports which have attracted lots of investors, biddings will be organized.
At the meeting, the minister ordered the Airports Corporation of Vietnam, the sole manager of 22 airports around the country, to complete its plans to sell car parking spaces at Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat airport and Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport, the news agency reported.
Vietnam will need about VND1,000 trillion (US$45.7 billion) for projects of traffic infrastructure from now till 2020, according to the ministry’s estimates.
It said 70 percent of the cost will have to be drawn from non-public sectors, and the rest will be funded with the state budget and official development assistance loans.
Since the transport ministry announced its plans to privatize airports in February, a few local investors have offered to buy operating rights for their services.
Low-cost Vietjet Air, for instance, wants to buy the operating rights to a domestic terminal at Noi Bai airport, while Jetstar Pacific, another budget carrier, eyes a terminal in Da Nang irport.
T&T Group, a real estate company based in Hanoi, is interested in the sole airport on Phu Quoc Island.

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