Airlines told to fly to nearby locations as Saigon, Hanoi airports start upgrade work

By Doan Loan   July 8, 2020 | 08:59 pm PT
Airlines told to fly to nearby locations as Saigon, Hanoi airports start upgrade work
Workers are seen at the construction site to upgrade the runway of Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, July 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Duy.
The Transport Ministry wants airlines to temporarily divert some of their flights to airports near Hanoi and HCMC.

Both Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat airports have shut down a runway each for major upgrades, and have just one runway left. With summer being the peak travel period, delays are causing a nightmare.

Carriers and passengers have complained about a rash of delayed flights at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi and Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City during the past week.

Carriers said flight schedules went haywire at both places as soon as the runways were shut down. Passengers have complained about having to sit on planes and wait for an hour to take off amid a long queue to use the runway. Others said their planes had to circle for long before touching down.

The ministry called on the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) on Wednesday to instruct airlines to divert a part of their services to Cat Bi airport in Hai Phong City and Tho Xuan airport in Thanh Hoa, 123 km and 170 km from Hanoi, and to Can Tho airport in Can Tho City and Cam Ranh airport in Nha Trang, around 200 km and 300 km from HCMC.

The CAAV will effect the changes this week.

It has also instructed the Vietnam Air Traffic Management Corporation to reduce the distance between landing planes from five to three miles (eight kilometers to 4.8 km) to reduce the waiting time.

Since 2017 Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat airports have been chronically overloaded and receiving new-generation aircraft with huge loads, which have degraded their runways and taxiways.

The transport ministry has been repeatedly seeking the government’s permission to fix the runways, but the latter could not find the funds for it, Nguyen Bach Tung, deputy head of the ministry’s planning and investment department, said.

Last April VND4 trillion ($172 million) was finally allotted for the upgrades.

Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The said on Tuesday that the runways and taxiways at the two airports would be shut down one after another so that the entire work could be finished before the 2022 Lunar New Year in February.

The work will affect the operations of all carriers and cause inconvenience for passengers, The said.

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