Hanoi Moves Closer to Second Airport

Hanoi Moves Closer to Second Airport

DALLAS — Plans for a second airport at Hanoi appear to have been accelerated, following a series of mixed signals from the Vietnamese government in recent years.

In 2020, the Vietnamese Ministry for Sports, Culture, and Tourism announced that planning for a second airport for the capital city was underway but that, “the projects will not be executed in the 2020-2030 period but before 2050”.

Whilst Vietnam implemented some of the strictest travel protocols during the peak of the pandemic, the country has subsequently enjoyed one of the swiftest recoveries in the region. Supplementing this rebound is the continuing expansion of home-based carriers, such as Vietnam Airlines (VN) inaugurating trans-pacific links to San Francisco (SFO) in 2021.

Privately owned carriers Bamboo Airways (QH) and VietJet (VJ) continue to enjoy sustained growth with QH expanding into Europe during the pandemic with its Boeing 787 fleet. Moreover, VJ continues to leverage success from the booming low-fare sector in the country, using its all-Airbus fleet.

Bamboo Airways obtained surplus slots during the pandemic to facilitate European expansion and now serves Frankfurt (FRA) and London Gatwick (LGW).
Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

Growing Pains

The present facility at Noi Bai (HAN) has served the city for over four decades but rapid population growth within the city has left little real estate for HAN to expand. While any potential site for a second airport is yet to be confirmed, it was reported that one possible location could be the Ứng Hòa district, which is approximately 50km from the city center.

This most recent development appears to involve the Hanoi People’s Committee, which serves as the city’s municipal administrative body, submitting an expansion proposal to the Ministry of Transport for consideration. At the time of writing, it was unclear what the reaction of the National Assembly is to the latest consideration.

However, this is not the first time that the city body has taken such action. It was stated in 2021 that a blueprint involving a second airport working in conjunction with the existing facility and offering a combined capacity of up to 130 million passengers per year, was submitted to the Ministry of Transport for review.

Vietnam’s national carrier joined the SkyTeam alliance in 2010. Photo: Adrian Nowakowski/Airways

Differing Opinions

It would also appear that the Ministry of Transport has steered away from the potential site at Ứng Hòa, which highlights the possibility that the Hanoi People’s Committee and the Ministry of Transport perhaps hold different views on how extra capacity should be created. Whilst the rapid recovery from the pandemic has shone the spotlight on the need for a second airport, it remains to be seen how receptive the national government will be to the acceleration of previously announced expansion plans by the Hanoi People’s Committee.

HAN presently operates in a dual terminal layout, with domestic links operating from Terminal 1 and international links operating from the more modern facility at Terminal 2, which was opened in 2015. Despite HAN being configured with two separate runways, the limited lateral separation between them precludes simultaneous arrivals and departures, thus limiting the total number of movements.

Featured image: Check-in concourse Terminal 2 at HAN. Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Hieucd – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Aviation author and commercial pilot based in the UK, with close to twenty years in the industry.

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