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
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