Tan Son Nhat International Airport (IATA: SGN, ICAO: VVTS) (Vietnamese: Sân bay Quốc tế Tân Sơn Nhất) is Vietnam's largest international airport in terms of area (800 ha/1,977 acres compared with 650 ha/1,606 acres of Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport and Da Nang's Da Nang International Airport). It has a handling capacity of 15-17 million passengers per year, compared with the capacity of Hanoi - Noi Bai airport of 8 million passengers and Da Nang's 2 million passengers. It is also the largest airport of Vietnam in terms of passengers handled (with an estimated number of over 12.5 million passengers per year in 2009, accounting for more than half of Vietnam's air passenger traffic), serving Ho Chi Minh City as well as Dong Nam Bo in southern Vietnam. Its IATA code SGN was derived from the city's former name of Saigon.
Tan Son Nhat International Airport has its origins in the early 1930s, when the French colonial government constructed a small airport with unpaved runways, known as Tân Sơn Nhất Airfield near the village of Tan Son Nhat. By mid-1956, with U.S. aid, a 7,200-foot (2,190 m) runway had been built and the airfield near Saigon became known as South Vietnam's principal international gateway. During the Vietnam War (or Second Indochina War), Tan Son Nhut Air Base (then using the alternative spelling Tân Sơn Nhứt) was an important facility for both the U.S. Air Force and the (VNAF). Between 1968 and 1974, Tan Son Nhut Airport was one of the busiest military airbases in the world. During the last days of South Vietnam, Pan Am schedules from 1973 showed Boeing 747 service was being operated four times a week to San Francisco via Guam and Manila . Continental Airlines operated up to 30 Boeing 707 military charters per week to and from Tan Son Nhut Airport during the 1968-74 period.
On 9 December 2004, United Airlines became the first U.S. airline to fly to Vietnam since Pan Am's last flight during the Fall of Saigon in April 1975. UA 869 (operated by a Boeing 747-400) landed at Ho Chi Minh City, the terminus of the flight that ran from San Francisco via Hong Kong. On 29 October 2006, this service was switched from San Francisco to Los Angeles with a stop in Hong Kong, operating as UA 867 (also using a Boeing 747-400). In 2009, the service UA 869 has resumed once again from San Francisco via Hong Kong International. In 2006, this airport at Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City served approximately 8.5 million passengers (compared with 7 million in 2005) with 64.000 aircraft movements . HCM - Tan Son Nhat Airport has recently accounted for nearly two thirds of the arrivals and departures at Vietnam's international gateway airports..
Due to increasing demand (about 15%-20% per annum), this airport has been continuously expanded by the Southern Airports Corporation.
Tan Son Nhat International Airport served 13 million passengers in 2008 compared to 11 million in 2007. According to the new expansion plan announced by the Vietnamese government, the airport will be enlarged to provide facilities and space for around 70 aircraft to land by 2015, and to handle 23.5 million passengers and 600,000 tonnes of cargo per annum.
New international terminal
A new international terminal funded by Japanese ODA and constructed by a consortium of four Japanese contractors (KTOM, abbreviation of 4 contractors's names: Kajima - Taisei - Obayashi - Maeda), opened in September 2007 with a capacity for 8-10 million passengers a year, thus giving the airport a total annual capacity of 15-17 million passengers. The old terminal is now used for domestic flights only. After 2015, when Long Thanh International Airport is completed, Tan Son Nhat will serve domestic passengers only.
The international terminal is open 24 hours a day.
Following the opening of its new international terminal in September 2007, HCM - Tan Son Nhat has two major terminal buildings with separate sections for international and domestic flights. Four jetways were added in the late 1990s prior to which aircraft had to use remote parking and passengers were transferred to/from the terminal by shuttle buses. The capacity of the new terminal, once fully completed, will be 8 million passengers per annum. After 2015, when Long Thanh International Airport is completed, Tan Son Nhat will serve domestic passengers only.
The Prime Minister of Vietnam by Decision 1646/TTg-NN has approved the addition of 30 hectares (74 acres) of adjacent area to extend the apron and to build a cargo terminal due to the rapid increase of passenger (which will reach to 11 million in 2007 and is expected to reach 17 million in 2010, compared to 7 million and 8.5 million in 2005 and 2006 respectively) and cargo volume at this airport
Arrivals and Departures are split across two floors.
Terminals, airlines and destinations
Domestic flights operate from Terminal 1, whilst international flights use Terminal 2.
The airport's future
The current Tan Son Nhat airport is located inside the crowded city of Ho Chi Minh City, and a limited area for expansion and safety concerns would make it hard to upgrade in order to meet increasing demand. Following a recent decision by the Vietnamese Prime Minister, a new airport—Long Thanh International Airport—will replace Tan Son Nhat airport for international-departure use. The master plan for this new airport was approved in April 2006. The new airport will be built in Long Thanh county, Dong Nai province, about 50 km (31 mi) northeast of Ho Chi Minh City and 70 km (43 mi) northwest of the petroleum-focused city of Vung Tau, near Highway 51A. The pre-feasibility study for this project is under way. The Long Thanh International Airport will be constructed on an area of 50 square kilometres (19 sq mi), and it will have four runways (4,000 m x 60 m or 13,100 ft x 200 ft) and be capable of receiving the Airbus A380 jumbo jet. The project will be divided in two stages. Stage one includes the construction of two parallel runways and a terminal with a capacity of 20 million passengers per year, due to be completed in 2011. The second stage is scheduled for completion in 2015, leaving the airport with three passenger terminals and a cargo terminal designed to received 5 million metric tons of cargo per year. The total invested capital of this project is an estimated US$8 billion. Upon completion of Long Thanh International Airport, Tan Son Nhat Airport will serve domestic passengers only. Long Thanh International Airport is expected to be the leading airport on the Indochinese peninsula, and one of the busiest air transportation hubs in the southeast Asian region.
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