In a letter sent to An Giang’s administration, the transport ministry explained that it was “not the right time” for such an investment, though leaving the door open for a future plan if demand should call.
The proposed An Giang airport was envisioned to be a domestic terminal in Can Dang Commune, Chau Thanh District, whose planning was approved in 2011 following a decision by the transport ministry.
According to the planning, the mixed-use airport would cover 235 hectares upon completion, including 169.59 hectares for dual use, 34.2 hectares for civil utilization, and 31.25 hectares for military purposes.
It would have cost over VND3.4 trillion (US$150.53 million), with the completion date set for 2030.
However, the project was immediately faced with a backlash from the local media and public, who criticized it for being a waste of money while other airports in the region were still not operating to their full capacity.
With the exception of Phu Quoc International Airport in Kien Giang Province, there are currently three airports in the Mekong Delta region: Can Tho, Rach Gia and Ca Mau in Can Tho City, Rach Gia City and Ca Mau Province, respectively.
All three airports are running at a loss due to low demand and a high cost of operation, with the administration of Can Tho having even suggested using state money to subsidize airlines opening new routes to its unmarketable airport.
The proposed location of the An Giang airport is just 60 kilometers away from Can Tho International Airport, 180 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City, and 60 kilometers from Rach Gia.
According to Le Dinh Tho, Deputy Minister of Transport, the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam has decided to exclude the An Giang airport from its revised planning of Vietnam’s air transportation until 2020, with a vision for 2030.
Instead, the project would be taken over by the Ministry of National Defense to consider developing it into a military airport.
In the future, should demand for passenger or cargo transport to and from An Giang Province arise, the provincial administration could work with relevant bodies to expand the airport for civil use, Tho said.