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Transport ministry urged to move forward with new airports in central Vietnam
By Thanh Nien News -
 An undated photo of an aircraft at Phu Quoc Airport. Photo credit: Saigon Times Online
Two provinces in central Vietnam are growing impatient and have decided to press the Ministry of Transport to speed up the development of their airport projects. 
News website Dau Tu reported on Friday that Dak Nong's government has recently sent a letter to the ministry, requesting it to start drafting a plan to build an airport for middle and small aircraft, including helicopters, in Nhan Co Commune.
The plan should be finished by this June 30 so the airport can be ready in 2020, the province said in the letter, its second this year.
Dak Nong expects Nhan Co airport to be a boost for investment, especially for its backbone sector of aluminum production, according to the news website.
Meanwhile, Quang Tri has also asked the transport ministry to approve a plan to build a domestic airport, so it can move forward with the next steps, Dau Tu reported.
According to the plan submitted in 2012, the 311-hectare airport will cost VND374 billion (US$16.55 million). It will be located in the middle of Quang Binh Province's Dong Hoi Airport and Thua Thien-Hue Province's Phu Bai Airport, and about 90 kilometers away from either of them.
Funding snag
The requests come as the government is having difficulties finding money for transport infrastructure projects and most existing airports are operating at a loss.
Vietnam is now home to 22 airports, of which only Tan Son Nhat and Noi Bai are making profits, the country's sole airport manager Airports Corporation of Vietnam reported at the end of last year.
Under a national plan for aviation development approved seven years ago, Vietnam will have 26 airports, including 10 international ones, by 2020. The government also plans to add several small airports for helicopters and short-haul aircraft.
In order to fund these new projects, the transport ministry has been calling on the participation of private investors, besides looking to sell rights to manage some of the existing airports and provide services like fuel supply and flight information.
Vietnam will need around VND1,000 trillion ($44.52 billion) for transport projects over the next five years, and the government can take care of less than 29 percent, the ministry said in a report last year.
The airline market is forecast to grow by 19 percent this year to 45 million passengers, Dau Tu quoted analysts as saying.
The domestic sector would grow by 23.4 percent to more than 26.2 million passengers, it said.