VietNamNet Bridge – The government has recently called for foreign investment into the airports in Vietnam, while some experts believe that Vietnam has too many airports already.
Of the four international airports in the central region, only the Da Nang and Cam Ranh ones can serve the international flights from or to Vietnam.
Vietnam now has 22 airports, including five international ones. The government does not think that the airport programming is a task of the central agencies, while the programming has been decentralized to local authorities.
As a result, airports have been set up in many localities, once local officials believe airports would help develop the local economies. There have been so many airports in Vietnam that experts say Vietnam is suffering from the so called “airport phenomenon.”
They have pointed out that a lot of airports have been left idle with very low exploitation capacity. The airports have been gobbling up big sums of money every year, while they cannot earn money to cover the expenses due to the low number of passengers.
Quang Binh local authorities once hoped that its Dong Hoi airport would help attract travelers to the province, famous with the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park. Located just 200 kilometers far from Vinh and Phu Bai airports, Dong Hoi was designed to serve 300 passengers per rush hour and 500,000 passengers a year.
However, since it became operational four years ago, the airport only serves five flights a week on Dong Hoi – HCM City and four, Dong Hoi – Hanoi. It has served 142,000 passengers over the last four years, much below its designed capacity. Due to the lack of passengers, the airport incurs the loss of 55-60 billion dong a year.
The Chu Lai airport in Quang Nam province has resumed its operation since 2005 after the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam in 2004 spent 80 billion dong to build a new terminal. In 2008, the local authorities got the approval to the plan to develop it into an international airport.
However, the airport has been incurring debts. In 2011 alone, it incurred the loss of 5.7 billion dong, partially because of the lack of passengers.
Due to the poor infrastructure items, in many cases, airports cannot land in at night, but have to fly to the Da Nang airport, 100 kilometers far away. Only small size aircrafts can land in the airport, while Boeing and Airbus cannot. Meanwhile, ATR72 is not the choice of the majority of passengers.
The Binh Dinh provincial authorities have proposed the Ministry of Transport to approve the plan to turn the Phu Cat airport in the locality into an international airport.
The Cam Ranh airport in Khanh Hoa province, 300 kilometers far from Phu Cat, though recognized as one of the five international airports of the country, still cannot meet the requirements of ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Meanwhile, the Phu Bai airport, capable to receive the latest generation aircrafts and provide standardized services, has not received any international commercial flights over the last three years.
Anh Duong, a trade and service company, which has been joining forces with travel firms to bring Russian tourists to Vietnam, complained that the service providers planned to carry the tourists on Boeing 777’s, but Cam Ranh is not capable to receive the big aircraft.
Experts have said that airports are built mostly to serve the tourism development, which means that local authorities should think of setting up airports if they believe that they have great potentials to develop tourism.
Source: Doanh Nhan Saigon