Airport consultants submit proposal for expansion of Vietnam's largest airport

21 March 2018 3 min. read

French airport consultants ADPI have submitted a proposal for the redevelopment of Vietnam’s Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, limiting its capacity to a near 50 million passengers per year.

According to ADP Ingénierie, the engineering and consulting arm of French airport managers Groupe ADP, Tan Son Nhat as the country’s largest airport is already stretched way beyond its 25-million design capacity, catering to 36 million visitors last year – an over 100% rise on the 2012 figure of 17.5 million in the space of five years. The increasingly pressing situation has seen the formulation of various expansion proposals, including a pitch from Ho Chi Minh City to increase the airport’s capacity to 70 million by 2025.

Under the city’s incremental plan, the Vietnamese government would build a 10-million capacity third terminal over the next two years, followed by a larger fourth terminal by 2022 – bumping capacity to 55 million – after which a new runway would be constructed in conjunction with a fourth terminal expansion to allow for 70 million passengers by 2025.

ADPI, however, considers such a strategy both overly costly and unnecessary – with the planned 100-million capacity Long Thanh International Airport east of Ho Chi Minh City, which has been designed to ease pressure on Tan Son Nhat, set to begin construction next year; its 25-million capacity first stage being scheduled for completion in 2025. Forecasts by ADPI peg the demand at Tan Son Nhat, which is slated to switch to domestic services only, at 51 million annual passengers by the end of the same period.Airport consultants ADPI submit proposal for expansion of Vietnam's largest airporAccordingly, ADPI, engaged by the Ministry of Transport among a range of Asian contracts awarded to the firm last year, have submitted a contrasting proposal which seeks to avoid the construction of a further runway – deemed both too expensive and environmentally destructive with respect to increased noise and air pollution – with capacity to be limited to just above 50 million.

As compared to Ho Chi Minh City’s $1.5 billion plan – with an estimated near $2 billion further required for site clearing and the relocation of homes – the projected $1.3 billion ADPI proposal would see the addition of a new terminal to the south of the existing airport to cater to 20 million visitors, and a separate cargo terminal and aircraft maintenance facility built to the north.

The consulting firm has also called for the development of associated transport infrastructure, with a dedicated access road and public transportation systems to lessen congestion and provide better access. There are concerns however that if capacity were to be capped, and the scheduled completion of Long Thanh International Airport not met, then there could be a significant economic impact – especially when considering that Vietnam’s aviation sector is currently the third fastest growing in the Asia Pacific.

Nevertheless, the proposed passenger cap appears to have the backing of the state-owned Airport Design and Construction Consultancy, which has lodged a similar proposal, along with the Minister of Transport who has been reported as stating that an increase to 70 million at Tan Son Nhat would be impossible due the environmental issues. “The Ministry of Transport will base its recommendation on [ADPI’s study] to report to the Government the maximum capacity of Tan Son Nhat Airport to ensure the normal life of people,” he said.