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$1 billion plan taxis onto runway to upgrade int’l airports in Vietnam


Vietnam’s aviation agency has proposed a plan to upgrade three international airports near popular tourist destinations Ha Long, Hoi An and Hue over the next three years.


The project is expected to cost VND23.3 trillion (more than $1 billion) and includes new passenger and cargo terminals, buildings and runway upgrades, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) said in its proposal to the transport ministry.


It said the money would be spent at Cat Bi Airport, which is 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Ha Long Bay, Phu Bai Airport just outside the former royal capital Hue, and Chu Lai Airport, 77 kilometers south of Hoi An.


The CAAV said Phu Bai and Chu Lai were operating far above capacity last year, while Cat Bi, which offers the shortest route to Hai Phong, is likely to be overloaded next year.


Vietnam’s aviation market is growing at the third fastest pace in Asia-Pacific and the country is grappling with an acute dearth of airport capacity.


Aviation authorities estimated that the number of passengers on domestic flights soared 35 percent to 28 million in 2016, accounting for more than half of the total air travel in the country.


Airports across the country served more than 55 million passengers during the first seven months of this year, according to the CAAV. The number in July alone reached 9.1 million, up 12.2 percent against the same month last year.


In March, the Airports Corporation of Vietnam asked for VND32 trillion ($1.4 billion) from the state budget to upgrade large airports across the country.