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Vietnam Airlines asks to buy entire terminal of Hanoi airport

Monday, March 02, 2015, 11:50 GMT+7
Vietnam Airlines asks to buy entire terminal of Hanoi airport
Terminal T1 is seen at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi.

National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines has proposed purchasing an entire passenger terminal at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport, whose right to operate a private carrier also asked to buy a month earlier.

>> An audio version of the story is available here

Vietnam Airlines wants to buy Terminal T1, which now serves domestic flights, at Noi Bai, according to a document signed by the airline’s chairman of the board of members Pham Viet Thanh, and submitted to the Ministry of Transport.

“It is common for big airlines to have their own terminals at their main airports to exclusively serve their flights and passengers,” Thanh wrote in the document.

The chairman said selling the terminal to Vietnam Airlines would be pursuant to the transport ministry’s policy to mobilize private investment to develop the country’s airport infrastructure.

If allowed to buy the terminal, Vietnam Airlines will be able to “seek measures to cut aviation costs and improve its business effectiveness,” Thang said in the same proposition.

The flag carrier also vowed to be responsible for improving service quality at the terminal, according to the executive.

In early February, privately-owned carrier VietJet Air also submitted a document to Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang, asking to be transferred the right to exploit Terminal T1 for 20 years.

The proposal of Vietnam Airlines, however, is quite different, in the manner that it wants to directly purchase the terminal as per the current regulations instead of acquiring the right to operate the facility for a limited term.

Vietnam Airlines said it will use its own capital and pool more from its subsidiaries and also outside organizations and individuals for the proposed purchase.

Lai Xuan Thanh, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, admitted to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that selling a terminal, or the right to operate it, to an airline is a new matter in the Southeast Asian country.

The aviation authority is studying the issue and hopes to be able to introduce the “set of standards required for investors who are interested in the country’s airports in a couple of weeks,” Thanh added.

Thirty-six local and international airlines are offering an average of 360 flights to and from Noi Bai on a daily basis, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

Terminal T1, spanning 115,000 square meters, is capable of serving nine million passengers per year with 19 boarding gates.

On Wednesday last week, Minister Thang addressed the proposal of VietJet Air in a meeting in Hanoi, and ended up ordering the Airports Corporation of Vietnam to pilot transferring the operation right of Row E to VietJet Air before doing so with the entire terminal.

VietJet Air is leasing the entire Row E of Terminal T1, which currently serves only passengers of domestic flights operated by the carrier and Jetstar Pacific, after the modern Terminal T2 was commissioned late last year.

Relevant aviation agencies should also consider whether to allow VietJet Air to run Terminal T1 for 20 or 50 years, Thang said at the same meeting.

He also requested that the Vietnamese aviation sector focus on pilot programs to sell 100 percent of the government’s investment in Phu Quoc International Airport on the eponymous island off the southern province of Kien Giang and part of Da Nang International Airport to budget airlines.

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