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Airport terminals may be up for grabs

Released at: 09:49, 06/03/2015

Airport terminals may be up for grabs

Equal playing field called for in efforts to boost Vietnam's aviation sector.

by Hoai An

A number of local investors have expressed concern over a Ministry of Transport (MoT) plan to transfer the operations of airport terminals away from the Airport Corporation of Vietnam.

Both Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet Air have showed interested in taking over Terminal 1 (T1) at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport. On February 2015 Vietjet Air sent a proposal to the MoT requesting the right to operate T1 for a 20-year period. Vietnam Airlines, meanwhile, is expected to propose it purchase the terminal.

This is the first time the sale or operational transfer of airport terminals has been mooted, despite the aviation sector being related to national security and defense. The sale or transfer of T1 at Noi Bai and Phu Quoc International Airport is certain to trigger much debate, especially regarding security and monopoly issues.

Many factors lie behind the MoT move. Dr. Pham Quy Tho, a public policy expert at the Ministry of Planning and Investment, told VET that such factors include efforts to mobilize social capital to ease the burden on the State budget, so that funds may be freed up for investment in other projects such as the construction of Ho Chi Minh City's Long Thanh International Airport. An equal playing field will be established so that State-owned enterprises (SOEs) and private enterprises are both able to submit proposals.

"There must be clear regulations and transparent bidding practices, to avoid misunderstandings and unfair competition between SOEs and private enterprises," Mr. Tho said. Although Vietnam Airlines has conducted its equitization, the State still holds 75 per cent of shares. Vietjet Air may face difficulties in attempting to become involved in the transfers. "In order to develop the aviation industry, Vietjet Air should be selected, to create an equal playing field," he added.

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