Vietnam upgrading main airports for long-range flights

Singapore
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Vietnam is lengthening runways and increasing terminal capacity at its main airports to allow Boeing 747s to operate on long-range flights within a few years.

Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport will build a 3,800m (12,460ft)-long runway costing about $20.5 million to complement the current runway that has weight and length restrictions preventing fully loaded 747s from taking off.

“Construction will start in one or two years,” says Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) deputy director of planning and investment Vo Anh Tu.

Noi Bai’s new international terminal, built at a cost of $76 million and now being tested with domestic flights, will throw its doors open for up to 4 million passengers annually in August. If traffic grows substantially in the next few years, CAAV will embark on the terminal’s second phase catering for 6 million passengers.

Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat Airport should finish making its primary runway stronger and extending it to 3,800m, from 3,066m (10,050ft), next year at a cost of $4.7 million, says Vo.

CAAV is also considering a new terminal feasibility study for Danang Airport, the country’s third international gateway.

Plans exist to open other domestic airports to international flights, although most, except the mountain resort town of Dalat, will have to wait until work on the three current international gateways is finished.

“In two or three years Dalat will be open to international services,” says Vo.

Airport expansion comes as Vietnam Airlines is aiming to launch its own US services in the coming years.