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Vietnam plans US$5.5b expansion to double Hanoi airport capacity

[HANOI] Vietnam is planning a US$5.5-billion expansion of Hanoi's airport to double its capacity by 2030, the government news website reported on Monday.

Noi Bai International Airport likely will be over-stretched by 2019 due to strong passenger growth, the director general of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam told the government news website.

Vietnam is among the world's 10 fastest growing aviation markets in percentage terms, and is expected to double in size each decade over the next 20 years, according to a report by the International Air Transport Association late last year.

The government added a second terminal to Hanoi airport that almost doubled its capacity to 25 million passengers a year at the end of 2014. The new expansion will boost capacity to 50 million people a year by 2030.

Details of the plan are not yet finalised and are subject to government's approval, Lai Xuan Thanh told the website.

The Communist country's air passenger traffic grew 7.9 per cent last year to 20.7 million, while growth in the first five months of 2016 leaped 30.9 per cent to 17 million, government data showed.

Such growth has benefited domestic airlines like VietJet, which last week agreed a firm order of 100 Boeing planes worth US$11.3 billion at list prices, making it one of Southeast Asia's fastest-growing low-cost carriers.

The country also plans to build a new US$16-billion airport near the economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City as an eventual competitor to sprawling airline hubs in Bangkok and Singapore, on a site that is bigger than both combined.

Vietnam's aviation market has been supported by economic growth of over 5 per cent annually since 1999 and competition among domestic airlines that makes flights more affordable to Vietnamese and foreign tourists.