Van Don International Airport in Quang Ninh province was officially opened on December 30th when a Vietnam Airlines Airbus A321 carrying Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and government officials landed at the airport, marking the opening of the first private airport in Vietnam. The new airport is 50 kilometers from Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh province.
Sun Group, one of Vietnam’s top real estate companies, built the 325-hectare airport, at a cost of $330 million USD. Construction of the airport began in 2015 and it opens with four gates and will be able to handle 2.5 million passengers a year. The number of gates will be increased to seven by 2030 and at that point, capacity will be 4.0 ~ 4.4 million passengers a year.
The new airport will be used by airlines flying from a variety of countries in Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia that have the ability to generate new tourists to Ha Long Bay and the Quang Ninh area. Flights are expected from Cambodia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Domestic flights will be from the central regions and southern regions.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at the airport’s opening ceremony that Quang Ninh has the potential to attract more domestic and international tourists and the new airport would help the province in its tourism development.
Quang Ninh’s tourism growth has been impressive. It welcomed 7.5 million travelers in the first half of 2018, including 2.46 million foreigners an increase of 14% from a year earlier and tourism revenues for the same period rose 31% to almost $550 million USD.
The launch of the new airport will make it easier for foreign tourists to visit Ha Long Bay, which was named among the world’s seven new natural wonders by Swiss organization New Open World in 2011.
Since Van Don district is of the three Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s) planned in the country, the airport is also expected to open up opportunities for business and socio-economic development in the area beyond tourism. Several companies are now studying the viability of developing industrial parks in the new SEZ and 2019 could see announcements about development.
The private airport is among a series of infrastructure projects aimed at opening Quang Ninh province to business and tourism. These projects include the airport; the Ha Long International Passenger Port; and an expressway between Ha Long and the proposed SEZ in Van Don district.