$975.5 mln needed for site clearance in airport project

By Duc Nguyen, Thanh Nien News

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The design of Long Thanh Airport in the southern province of Dong Nai
A new airport to replace Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat would need more than VND20.77 trillion (US$975.56 million) for site clearance, a local official has said.
Tran Van Vinh, vice chairman of Dong Nai Province’s People’s Committee, said on Friday that 5,000 hectares of land, 93 percent of which are agricultural land, would have to be revoked for the construction of Long Thanh Airport.

More than 5,380 families would be affected, he said.

Last year Dong Nai authorities asked the government to distribute VND470 billion ($2.2 million) for paperwork related to the site clearance.

The government approved the Long Thanh Airport project in 2011 with initial investment estimated at $8 billion. It was designed to replace Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.

Under a government order, the Ministry of Transport will submit an investment plan for the project to the National Assembly for approval this June.

Work on Long Thanh was scheduled to start next year, and the airport will go into operation in about 10 years with the capacity of 25 million passengers and 1.2 million tons of goods per year.

The airport was designed to receive 100 million passengers and five million tons of goods annually at its maximum capacity.

When the new airport opens, Tan Son Nhat, which reached its designed capacity of 20 million passengers per year at the end of 2013, will gradually become a domestic airport.

Since it was approved, the Long Thanh project has faced relentless opposition from critics who dismiss it as wasteful and say it would be better to expand the existing airport.

The Airports Corporation of Vietnam, which operates Tan Son Nhat, early this month proposed that the transport ministry to expand the airport so it can reach its supposed maximum capacity of 26 million passengers per year.

The corporation said the expansion is necessary either way, because it will be years before the new airport becomes operational.

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