The airport, situated 290 kilometers from Hanoi, has the potential to serve defense and search and rescue operations, the province said in a proposal to the Ministry of Transport.
It is one of two military airports in the mountainous northwest, with the other being Dien Bien Phu Airport in Dien Bien Province, 460 kilometers from Hanoi.
But the proposal pointed out that since the latter's runway is too short for large military aircraft, Na San Airport could become a strategic asset in the region for the military.
The upgrade would also foster economic development since a traveling time of nearly seven hours to the province from Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi is a major challenge in attracting tourists, it said.
The province is known for its Moc Chau District, a popular backpacking destination where ethnic people grow tea and rice.
Son La said the airport could be funded by the Airports Corporation of Vietnam, its own coffers and other sources. The corporation has finished a pre-feasibility report for the airport renovation.
An independent consultancy had proposed to the ministry that Na San Airport should be excluded from the development plan for the next decade since it is expected to have a demand of only 0.5 million passengers a year by 2030.
Several localities have recently sought approval for airports to boost economic growth, including the northern province of Ninh Binh , the central province of Ha Tinh and the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau .
The country currently has 22 civilian airports, including 10 international air hubs, with Tan Son Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City and Noi Bai in Hanoi being the two biggest.
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