No-bid contract proposal for Long Thanh airport design draws fire

Airports Corporation of Vietnam’s (ACV) proposal to award a no-bid feasibility study and design consulting contract for a new international airport in Long Thanh, Dong Nai Province has encountered criticism.

No-bid contract proposal for Long Thanh airport design draws fire

Opposing the proposal, architects said this is a key aviation infrastructure project, so a competitive tender should be held to choose the best design.

In order that work can begin on the US$16-billion Long Thanh International Airport next year as expected, ACV has requested the Ministry of Transport to pick a contractor to do the feasibility study and design the airport terminal, instead of organizing a competitive bidding that will take time, to speed up construction work.

However, the Vietnam Association of Architects, after seeing news reports about the proposal, wrote to the Minister of Transport asking for a design contest to select the best design for the terminal.

The project is of great importance, so its design must reflect the nation’s cultural identity and impress passengers, especially tourists, according to architect Nguyen Tan Van, chairman of the association.

Architect Ngo Viet Nam Son told the Daily last week that Tan Son Nhat International Airport and Terminal T2 of Noi Bai International Airport funded by Japan and thus designed by Japanese firms failed to characterize national identity. This should not be repeated when a significant project like Long Thanh airport is executed, he proposed.

According to architect Le Dinh Quang, airports are what international visitors will see first when they arrive in Vietnam. Therefore, leading architects and design consultants should be invited to join a design contest to pick the best terminal design possible for Long Thanh.

“As seen through the successful airports worldwide, the benefits of the best designs chosen have outweighed the sums spent on the design contests. Moreover, the cost of holding a design contest makes up a small fraction of an airport project’s cost,” Quang said. 

Take as examples Incheon, Beijing and Los Angeles airports, he said. These airports are success stories in terms of design thanks to lots of ideas contributed by leading architects and designers.

Huynh Xuan Thu, director of the Planning Information Center under the HCMC Department of Zoning and Architecture, said designing an airport terminal should be put in the transport network and urban infrastructure development context. Therefore, holding a design contest for the Long Thanh airport terminal is far better than awarding a no-bid contract, he noted.

“Different solutions proposed by different people and organizations are always better than just one solution,” Thu continued.

Meanwhile, Vo Kim Cuong, former deputy chief architect of HCMC, noted it could save time when a competitvive bidding process is skipped but this practice had downsides.

The Prime Minister has agreed to assign ACV to be the investor of the Long Thanh international airport project, use the development and investment funds to prepare the feasibility study for the project’s phase one and present it to the Prime Minister before reporting to the State Assessment Council.

Long Thanh airport will be developed in Long Thanh District in three phases until 2050. The project covers 5,000 hectares, with 2,750 hectares for airport infrastructure, 1,050 hectares for defense purposes and 1,200 hectares for supporting components and other commercial works.

The airport is envisaged handling 100 million passengers and five million tons of cargo annually when it is fully complete. Phase one of the project is set to be finished in 2025 with one runway, one terminal and supporting facilities to serve 25 million passengers and transport 1.2 million tons of cargo per year.

No-bid contract proposal for Long Thanh airport design draws fire