Vietnamese authorities have reportedly scaled back plans for the new airport they want to serve Ho Chi Minh City.

According to several news sources this week, the planned Long Thanh Airport will now have just one runway, not two as originally planned, to reduce costs.

An unidentified government official was quoted saying the decision to build just one runway would not affect the airport’s capacity. He said one runway could still allow the airport to handle 38 million passengers annually.

The existing Tan Son Nhat Airport has two runways, one each usually allocated to takeoffs and landings.

The first phase of the project is now scheduled to start next year, rather than in 2015.

Construction of the facility will cost US$6.6 billion, $1.2 billion less than earlier estimates, largely due to a reduction of compensation for land controlled by the Vietnamese Defence Ministry, according to the official.

Long Thanh is located about 40 kilometres to the northeast of Ho Chi Minh City which, in the absence of a new expressway road link, would take at least an hour to reach by car.

The government wants the new facility to become the primary international gateway into the country.

The Airports Corporation of Vietnam reportedly plans to expand Tan Son Nhat so it can handle 26 million passengers annually – it reached a capacity of 20 million in 2013.