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Phu Quoc Airport plans $45-million expansion as passenger growth exceeds forecast
By Mai Ha - Thanh Nien News -
 An undated photo of Phu Quoc Airport. Photo: Dao Ngoc Thach
More than VND1 trillion (US$45 million) will be needed for the expansion of the sole airport on Phu Quoc resort island, as it is going to reach its full capacity sooner than expected, the operator of Vietnam's airports said.
In a feasibility report, the Airports Corporation of Vietnam said once relevant authorities approve the plan, most likely next month, work will start in March and finish about one year later.
The expansion will increase the airport's capacity by more than 66 percent to four million passengers a year, and raise the number of boarding gates from four to 12.
Opened in December 2012, Phu Quoc Airport saw a stronger-than-expected growth of passengers, between 28 and 46 percent a year, thanks to the island's increased popularity, the authority said.
The airport will reach its full capacity of 2.65 million passengers in 2017 instead of 2020, it said.
Businesses have been rushing to the island, which is about 120 kilometers off the coast of Kien Giang Province, to open resorts, hotels and many tourist facilities.
Operating rights
Many airlines have also launched services to the island, so during its peak hours, when the airport has to serve four to five flights at the same time, congestion sometimes happen, according to the report.
In February, the Ministry of Transport announced a plan to sell the rights to operate Phu Quoc and several airports around the country to Vietnamese investors.
Under the plan, which is awaiting the government's approval, the rights can be wholly or partially transferred under an operation and maintenance agreement with a definite term.
So far at least two companies have publicly offered to purchase operating rights to Phu Quoc Airport.
Statistics from local authorities showed that over 586,000 tourists visited the island last year, up 37.6 percent year on year.
Foreign arrivals accounted for 21.3 percent, or 125,000 tourists, an increase of 21.5 percent from the year before.