Five Vietnamese airports close after sunset

By Doan Loan   November 9, 2018 | 01:48 am PT
Five Vietnamese airports close after sunset
A flight by Jetstar Pacific had to cancel a trip to Tuy Hoa airport because the airport had no runway lights, and landing time would be past sunset. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Duy
With few customers, five airports in different regions of Vietnam close at sunset because they do not have runway lights.

Tuy Hoa in the central province of Phu Yen, Rach Gia in the southern province of Kien Giang, Ca Mau in the southern province of the same name, Dien Bien Phu in the northern province of Dien Bien, and Con Dao in the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau are airports that do not light up after sunset, according to the Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV), which manages and operates civil airports in Vietnam.

These airports usually close at 5.30-6.00 p.m. when the sunlight is not sufficient to allow planes to land safely.

ACV officials said that all five airports see very little traffic, at just 1-2 flights per day, so the carriers arrange their schedule and restrict themselves to flights during the day

If the frequency of flights increases, ACV would be happy to invest in a runway light system, they said.

"The runway lighting system costs nearly $2 million, so we cannot just carelessly invest in an airport with little traffic," said one ACV official.

This puts passengers on the back foot, as delays mean the risk of being stuck at the airport until it re-opens the next day.

For instance, on the afternoon of Nov. 6, a flight by Jetstar Pacific from HCM City to Tuy Hoa airport was delayed due to a technical inspection.

After the aircraft had been replaced, there was a further delay due to HCMC’s Tan Son Nhat Airport being overloaded.

Finally, the airline had to cancel the trip to Tuy Hoa because landing time would be past sunset and the airport had no runway lights.

Some smaller airports in Vietnam are currently facing serious losses due to lack of passengers, and experts have warned that the country has too many airports.

Vietnam’s top watchdog, the Government Inspectorate, said late last year that 16-18 of the country’s 22 airports did not generate enough revenue to cover their expenses from 2012 to 2015, forcing ACV to spend over VND5.56 trillion ($236.57 million) to maintain them.

Vietnam's aviation industry served more than 94 million passengers in 2017, up 16 percent from the previous year, including 13 million foreigners.

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