Vietnam transport ministry gives inconsistent statements about airport creditor

By Mai Ha, Thanh Nien News

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A digital rendering of Long Thanh airport in the southern province of Dong Nai, 40 kilometers northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. Photo credit: the Airports Corporation of Vietnam A digital rendering of Long Thanh airport in the southern province of Dong Nai, 40 kilometers northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. Photo credit: the Airports Corporation of Vietnam


The transport ministry said Wednesday that French airport operator ADPM wants to offer a loan of US$2 billion for the proposed airport in Dong Nai, contradicting its earlier statement that another French firm, ADPI, was the potential investor.
In a press release Wednesday, the ministry quoted ADPM general director Frederic Dupeyron as saying that this firm and its partners would like to offer the loan for the Long Thanh airport project in the southern province of Dong Nai if approved by the parliament.
Dupeyron made the comment at a meeting with Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang on September 17, according to the release.
The ministry also said: “Reports [in the media] claiming that ADPI … committed to fund the construction of Long Thanh International Airport are incorrect. The ministry has no idea about ADPI and has never worked with it.”
ADPI, or Aéroports de Paris Ingénierie, is a subsidiary of Aéroports de Paris (ADP) and specializes in international airport design.
ADPM, or Aéroports de Paris Management, is another subsidiary of ADP that invests in airport companies and manages airport operations outside Paris.
The ministry’s release came Wednesday after Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted an unnamed ADP official as saying ADPI specializes in airport architecture and engineering and has never invested in airports.
Tuoi Tre interviewed the official after Deputy Minister of Transport Pham Quy Tieu claimed in an online conference October 17 that ADPI has committed $2 billion in loans for the Long Thanh airport.
He also said the Japanese government has committed $2 billion in official development assistance for the airport.
But a day later he sent a written apology to the Japanese ambassador, Fukada Hiroshi, for his statement.
“I’m sorry for that regretful mistake,” Tieu said in the letter.
He said he made the statement after hearing rumors about possible funding sources for the project, adding he had just returned to work after going on medical leave.
A letter Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang sent to the State Appraisal Council August 26 did say that ADPI wanted to invest $1.5 billion in the airport.
An official of the transport ministry, who asked not to be named, told Thanh Nien News Thursday that the confusion was caused by "typing errors" related to the potential investor’s name in that letter.
“The correct information is that ADPM did seek to invest in the Long Thanh Airport project,” he said.
The ministry plans to submit plans for the $7.8-billion airport next week to lawmakers who have begun a month-long session of the National Assembly.
In it, the ministry suggests that $3.98 billion for the airport will come from government funds, bonds, and official development assistance, and the remaining $3.76 billion from businesses.
The $7.8 billion investment will cover the cost of the first phase of the Long Thanh airport with two runways and a terminal capable of accommodating 25 million passengers annually.
Work on the first phase is expected to start in 2016 and finish in 2023.
The second phase is slated to be begin in 2023 to increase the airport's annual capacity to 50 million passengers by 2025. The third phase is expected to increase the capacity to 100 million.
Thang said building the airport, which will be 40 kilometers northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, is essential and urgent because HCMC’s Tan Son Nhat airport would soon be overloaded.
An estimated 40 million passengers are expected to land by 2025, double last year’s number.

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