Son La suggests another airport as private-public partnership project
The Son La administration has proposed that another airport in the northern highlands province, serving both civil and military purposes, be included in the national airports development plan.
The VND6,500 billion ($276.4 million) airport, named Moc Chau, would be built in the form public-private partnership (PPP).
The province has proposed to the Ministry of Transport that the project be included in the national airports plan for the 2021-2030 period, with vision until 2050.
If the proposal is approved, Son La would have two airports in the national plan, the first one being the Na San airport that has stopped operating. The province has also proposed that the Na San airport be upgraded.
In its first phase until 2030, the Moc Chau airport will cover an area of 350 hectares and serve one million passengers a year. In the second phase after 2030, it would expand to 500 hectares with an annual capacity of two million passengers.
The airport will serve both domestic and international routes. Notable destinations in Vietnam include Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, Cam Ranh and Phu Quoc. Possible foreign locations are Asian, including mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vientiane, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.
The provincial People’s Committee's proposal highlights Son La’s tourism and economic potentials, including favorable weather conditions and infrastructure for ecotourism, beautiful landscapes, the Moc Chau national tourism zone, agricultural processing plants including a Vinamilk dairy plant in Moc Chau district, among others.
In 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, the province served 2.5 million travelers, a year-on-year increase of 23.2%.
The Na San airport in Son La stopped operations in May 2004 after its facilities became downgraded. In August, the province suggested a two-phase investment in the airport to resume operations. The province recommended two investments phases of VND3,028 billion and VND2,560 billion ($108.8 million), respectively. Under this upgrade, the airport’s capacity will rise to one million passengers by 2030 and double to two million later.
Currently, the northwestern mountainous region is mainly served by the Dien Bien Airport. Under the transport ministry’s plan, this area will have four domestic airports by 2020: Lai Chau (Lai Chau province), Dien Bien Phu (Dien Bien province), Sa Pa (Lao Cai province), and Na San (Son La province).
Last week, the transport ministry said it supported Lai Chau province's proposal to build a VND4,350 billion ($185 million) new airport, for both civil and military purposes
At a forum on socio-economic development of the region on August 27, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said that public investment priority should go to expressways, airports and international border gates in the northern highlands.
Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The told the same forum that new airports in Lao Cai, Dien Bien and Son La provinces can create breakthroughs for the region.
“Airports are vital to the region’s socio-economic development in the context of many difficulties faced in building roads in mountainous areas. That will help the region attract investment from private companies including Samsung which delivers their products by air across the world,” The said.
The northern highlands covers 14 provinces: Lang Son, Cao Bang, Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Son La, Bac Giang, Thai Nguyen, Bac Can, Tuyen Quang, Phu Tho, Yen Bai, and Hoa Binh.
The region has an especially important, strategic location in terms of politics, economics, national security and external relations, according to the government. It has potential to develop border trade and holds advantages in trade connections with China and ASEAN.
The northern highlands has mineral resources and strong agriculture, forestry and aquaculture sectors. It is also considered the lung of the nation as it boasts the highest forest coverage rate in the country.
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