Senior central officials flew in from Hanoi Thursday for a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City to discuss solutions to easing the overload on Tan Son Nhat Airport.
Even before landing, many of them faced the problem they needed to urgently fix in the southern metro’s airport.
“The Vietnam Airlines chairman [Pham Ngoc Minh] and Central Aviation Authority of Vietnam director [Lai Xuan Thanh] had to fly around for more than 30 minutes because of the overloaded airport,” Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, who chaired the meeting, said.
Thanh said Tan Son Nhat Airport is extremely overloaded, handling more than 15.7 million passengers in the first half of this year.
“At the current pace, the number of passengers will reach over 31 million this year while the terminal is designed to serve only 25 million.”
“Tan Son Nhat is overloaded in the air, at the terminal and in the surrounding streets. The primary reason is overloading at the terminal.”
The airport has 51 parking bays for aircraft while the current demand is for 80.
Sometimes, aircraft have to be parked on the runway due to the overloading, causing nine others to wait in the air to land, Thanh said.
Dung said Long Thanh Airport in neighboring Dong Nai Province, meant to replace Tan Son Nhat Airport, would have its first stage ready only in 2025.
By then the number of passengers at Tan Son Nhat Airport is likely to reach 50 million a year, and maintaining security would be a big challenge, he said.
Thanh said the Ministry of Defense would hand over 21 hectares of land to expand the airport.
“We are studying construction of more terminals with the entrance from Cong Hoa Street to ease the overload on Truong Son Street. The airport can serve up to 40 million passengers a year with a new terminal and entrance.”
Dang Tuan Tu, director of Tan Son Nhat Airport, proposed limiting personal vehicles on Truong Son to ease traffic.
Bui Xuan Cuong, director of the city Transport Department, proposed building more overpasses.
Deputy Prime Minister Dung agreed with the plan to build a new terminal and entrance, and instructed the transport and defense ministries to draft a detailed plan and find an investor.
“The plan to expand the airport has to be facilitated. I will push relevant ministries on this with at least two or three calls a week.”
In 2015 Tan Son Nhat airport served 26.5 million passengers traveling by more than 181,000 flights, an 18 percent increase from the previous year.