​Vietnam firm, Chinese partner spark watchdog’s concern over proposal to build new airport

Geleximco wants to develop the multibillion-dollar Long Thanh International Airport with its Chinese partner Sunshine Kaidi New Energy Group

The selected design for Long Thanh airport.

The Airports Corporation of Vietnam, which oversees countrywide airdromes, has expressed concern at a proposal by a local company to be allowed to develop a costly airbase near Ho Chi Minh City with a Chinese partner.

In late August, Vietnam’s Geleximco and its Chinese partner, Sunshine Kaidi New Energy Group Co., Ltd., submitted a joint proposal to Vietnam’s prime minister, seeking his in-principle approval for them to develop the Long Thanh International Airport under the PPP (public-private partnership) scheme.

The construction of the airport in the namesake district in the southern province of Dong Nai was ratified by the lawmaking National Assembly in 2015.

The Geleximco- Kaidi duo said they have experience in airport development and are able to arrange finance for the project, which is expected to cost some VND336.63 trillion (US$15.03 billion).

The Vietnamese and Chinese companies also said they will be able to finish construction in three to five years at “the lowest possible cost for a new, modern airport.”

Commenting on the proposal, the Airports Corporation of Vietnam said it would not back the idea that the Geleximco- Kaidi duo will develop the entire Long Thanh International Airport on their own as it is a high risk move.

The airport watchdog suggested establishing a joint venture or joint stock company to develop the airport. Businesses invited to join the venture will be closely checked to avoid having incapable developers, which may lead to construction delay.

Do Tat Binh, deputy general director of the Airports Corporation of Vietnam, said it should be made clear whether Geleximco and its Chinese partner want to develop parts of, or the entire Long Thanh airport.

“If they want to be in charge of the whole construction, we will disagree,” he said.

Binh said the Airports Corporation of Vietnam will create conditions for the Geleximco- KAIDI consortium if they want to develop different units of the airport construction. “But they will have to meet strict requirements,” he added.

Binh acknowledged that there are also worries that Geleximco has little experience in airport development. However, he added that what’s more important is the developer’s financial capacity and investment feasibility.

The Airports Corporation of Vietnam has been tasked by the government with preparting the feasibility report for the Long Thanh project.

The new airport will be located only 50km from Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.

It will be designed in the shape of a stylized lotus flower, widely regarded as the national flower of Vietnam. The design by South Korea’s Heerim Architects & Planners places emphasis on the use of dynamic but selective colors to bring a sense of elegance to the mega-airport.

The mammoth project is set to break ground no later than 2019, two years earlier than initially planned.

 

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