Safety officer shortage roadblock to aviation growth

By Anh Tu   December 10, 2019 | 07:40 pm PT
Safety officer shortage roadblock to aviation growth
An aircraft seen at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. Photo by Shutterstock/Maksim Semin.
The country’s shortage of flight safety officers could constrain aviation development amidst rapid airline expansion.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) might have to limit fleet expansion among domestic airlines due to the lack of flight safety officers, Vo Huy Cuong, CAAV deputy head, said at the Vietnam Travel and Tourism Summit 2019 on Monday.

For every 10 new aircraft, CAAV needs two more flight safety officers. However, current regulations allow it to recruit only one for every two retired officers, he said.

As flight safety officers are required to be former pilots, CAAV has to hire them from local airlines, but due to limited budget, cannot pay them the VND120-300 million ($5,200-12,900) equivalent of their former monthly salary, it was added.

This means pilots tend to remain at local airlines for higher pay rather than work for the government.

In the past two years, CAAV has failed to pay Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet and Jetstar Pacific when hiring their pilots, Cuong explained.

With CAAV also short on flight managers and security officers, he proposed the government provides more incentives to attract staff.

In October, Bamboo Airways, Vinpearl Air, Vietravel Airlines and KiteAir (the latter three acquiring licensing) proposed to provide CAAV eight flight safety officers, under current reviewing.

CAAV presently employs 49 aviation safety officers, only four working full time, supervising a total 256 aircraft.

At least seven more are needed next year, and 37 more by 2025 to handle a fleet of 450.

Local airlines are also reporting staff shortages, especially pilots and technicians. Vietnam Airlines has been limiting operations of the wide-body Boeing 787 due to the lack of pilots, the carrier's Deputy General Director Le Hong Ha told the forum.

As wide-body aircraft need pilots with 7 to 8 years’ experience, with the figure at 4 to 5 years for narrow-body jets, the national flag carrier has struggled to recruit amid a global shortfall, he added.

Last year, Vietnam’s 21 state-run airports served 103.5 million passengers, up 11 percent year-on-year, with the figure set to rise to 112 million this year, according to the Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV).

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