Airport golf course investor promises to lower highrise

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The 157-hectare golf resort that's been slated for construction inside the grounds of Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport drew broad public scrutiny, after former airport officials charged that the resort's  hotels, restaurants and villas would compromise flight safety.

Tran Van Tinh, deputy board chairman of Long Bien Investment JSC, spoke to Thanh Nien about making adjustments to the project.

What do you think about recent feedback to the project?

We are grateful for the objective coverage of public opinion that Thanh Nien recently provided. The questions raised by Thanh Nien are very useful for the implementation of our project.

Even though the project plan has been approved, we continue will check and adjust any inappropriate specifications in the interests of the community.

Our point of view is that a project should not conflict with the public interest and financial benefits should not outweigh the safety of airline passengers.

What, exactly, are the adjustments which have to be made?

The biggest problem is the high-rise buildings. The project includes a five-star hotel and restaurant complex. The highest building is 12 floors (55 meters) followed by a luxury eight-floor apartment building (45 meters). We will lower the buildings to 20-25 meters (five to six floors).

We will finish the golf course and a five-floor club house by the end of 2015; the rest hotels, restaurants, luxury apartments and villas can wait until the Tan Son Nhat Airport is relocated to Long Thanh (Dong Nai Province).

Is it a promise, sir?

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It is a promise and we will surely keep our promise.  We are also airline passengers, so we understand the risks. We'd better fix the project now rather than finishing it and being ordered by authorities to lower the height of our buildings.

Some say that the 157-ha land plot reserved for the golf course should be used to expand the overloaded Tan Son Nhat Airport to protect the public interest, rather than serving the interests of a group of wealthy people. What do you think about this perspective?

I know that the public is concerned over the planned building of the golf course, which is said to serve the interest of rich people. However, I think the project will contribute to the economy.

Under the plan, the golf course will serve governmental and diplomatic agencies, investors, tourists, and golfers (70 percent of whom are foreigners). If the project can make profit, it will serve the interest of the city.

I think the opening of the Long Thanh International Airport to replace the Tan Son Nhat Airport is necessary, because it is not proper at all for the Tan Son Nhat Airport to be located inside HCMC, given the safety concerns.

Countries like Thailand, South Korea and Japan have built their airports at least 100 kilometers away from urban centers.

In my opinion, both domestic and international terminals should be relocated to Long Thanh--not just the international terminal, as planned.

The Tan Son Nhat Airport should not be expanded any further.

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