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Vietnam rejects copycat claim on design of $18.7bn airport

Saturday, May 23, 2015, 13:46 GMT+7

A local expert has accused Vietnam’s transport ministry of copying a Hong Kong airport in making a blueprint design for Long Thanh International Airport, a multibillion-dollar project it is seeking approval for implementation, but the allegation was dismissed Friday.

Dr. Tran Dinh Ba, from the Vietnam Economic Association, was quoted by many local news websites as saying early the same day that the ministry has used the artist’s impression of Chek Kap Lok International Airport to sell its plan to build the US$18.75 billion project.

“The 100 percent truth is the artist’s impression of Chek Kap Lok has been used in presentations about Long Thanh airport,” Ba said.

The newswires also published photos said to be of the Hong Kong terminal.

But the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam said these pictures “have no truck with the artist’s rendering and design idea of the Long Thanh International Airport which are included in plans approved by the government.”

“The Ministry of Transport and its agencies do not supply, and thus hold no responsibility over, any photos or design ideas different from the approved ones,” the aviation watchdog said in a press release late Friday.

Long Thanh airport, to be located in the eponymous district in the southern province of Dong Nai, some 50km from Ho Chi Minh City, is designed with four runways put into two parallel pairs. The passenger terminals are located between these two pairs of runways.

Dr. Ba apparently made the copycat claim as this is also the way the Hong Kong airport is designed.

However, the CAAV said this is “a typical design for many major international airports, such as the Charles De Gaul, Shanghai, and Suvarnabhumi.”

The CAAV noted that the design is only included in the prefeasibility report of the project, and the final design will only be prepared when it is approved by the law-making National Assembly.

The transport ministry has been trying to sell the plan of Long Thanh airport, to be constructed in three phases ending by 2030, when it will be able to serve 100 million passengers a year.

Most of the naysayers to the project questions the necessity of building a new enormous airport not too far from Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, currently the largest of its kind in Vietnam.

The transport ministry backs its plan by saying Tan Son Nhat will become overloaded in the next two years.

The airport, which has been serving 20 million passengers a year since 2013, is expected to reach its maximum capacity of 25 million passengers in 2016 or 2017 and a new airport must be built to share its burden, according to the transport ministry.

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