Vietnam has plans for much larger airport

 - July 25, 2007, 4:33 AM

Vietnam is considering building an $8 billion airport outside southern Ho Chi Minh City to handle a growing number of foreign visitors, according to the state-owned Vietnam News Agency. The project, which would require approval from Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, would accommodate 80 to 100 million passengers annually, or 10 times more than the country’s current largest airport, Tan Son Nhat outside Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam lays claim to being among the fastest-growing economies in Asia, with recent GDP growth of about 7 percent, according to the news agency.

Since opening its gates to Western visitors and business in the late 1980s, Vietnam has become a popular tourist destination. The Southeast Asian country has been devoting funding and political energy to improving its aviation infrastructure to attract more vacationers. For example, in May Vietnam opened a new international airport at the former Cam Ranh U.S. military base to support growing tourism demands at Nha Trang, a popular ocean resort.

The planned new facility, to be named Long Thanh International Airport, would be located in the heavily industrialized Dong Nai province and 40 miles from the southern resort beach city of Vung Tau. State media has reported that construction would start in 2007, with completion expected in 2011.