The first steps to increase air passenger capacity for the largest city in Vietnam are beginning to take shape, as construction of Long Thanh International Airport, near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is set to begin on January 5, 2021.

Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) reportedly plans to begin working on the construction site, which is located about an hour and a half from Ho Chi Minh City. The project, split into three phases, is set to be completed in 2040.

Phase 1 will include a terminal and a runway, in addition to all the needed support infrastructure to initially handle 25 million passengers and 1.2 million tons of cargo per year. The investment into Phase 1 is set to cost around VND109 trillion ($4.6 billion) and is scheduled to be completed by 2025. The Vietnamese government approved the airport’s Phase 1 in November 2020.

“The progress of the first project has been basically on schedule and the plan is expected to be fulfilled by 2025,” stated Vietnam’s Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The.

In total, Long Thanh International Airport will have four runways and four passenger terminal buildings with the ability to handle 100 million passengers per year. ACV estimated that the total cost of the new facilities, which should be completed by 2040, will be around VND336.6 trillion ($14.5 billion).

Currently, the primary airport of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN). The airport is struggling, as it already welcomed more passengers than it was designed to handle starting in 2016, when 32.4 million travelers crossed the airport’s halls. In 2018, the number increased to 38.3 million, while SGN was built to handle 28 million passengers. While an expansion plan, including a third terminal, is set to increase that capacity, the airport is located within Ho Chi Minh City. Thus, its ability to grow is limited by its surroundings.

Vietnam’s aviation market is expected to blossom into one of the largest in the world. In 2018, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasted that the country’s air transport was set to grow by 178% under a normal scenario and welcome a total of 128.8 million passengers per year in 2038. In an optimistic scenario, IATA indicated that the number could be as high as 205.2 million travelers walking in and out of airports across the South East Asian country by 2038.

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