Security screening overload adds to Tan Son Nhat airport woes

By Doan Loan, Gia Minh   April 19, 2021 | 11:58 pm PT
Security screening overload adds to Tan Son Nhat airport woes
Crowds of people are spotted waiting for security screening at the Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC, April 17, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
The inability of security screening to keep pace with passenger influx added to recent overcrowding at HCMC's Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

The airport's screening capabilities in lobbies A and B can handle over 3,300 passengers an hour, the Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) said Monday. But since around April 14, the number of passengers at the airport has increased beyond that threshold, especially in the morning hours.

On April 17 for example, over 5,100 passengers were present between 6 and 7 a.m., causing overcrowding, it said.

To resolve the issue, the ACV has requested Tan Son Nhat to open its security screening systems to their maximum capacity and increase the number of employees to help passengers with medical declarations and security checks. During Vietnam's incoming Reunification Day holiday on April 30, which will last four days plus the weekend, the airport is expected to receive a large number of passengers. It is thus requested to ensure traffic flow between security screening areas of lobbies A and B, among other measures.

Another reason that factors into the airport’s recent overcrowding issue is a random-check policy on 10 percent of passengers, said Dinh Viet Thang, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV). As such, the CAAV has requested that random check durations be reduced from one minute 30 seconds to only 30 seconds, Thang said.

The airport, the biggest in Vietnam, expects to see around 44 flights an hour during the Reunification Day holiday, a typical heightened flight frequency during holidays and festivals. Solutions to deal with the increased number of flights include reserving a part of Tan Son Nhat's international terminal, which has seen few arrivals due to pandemic prevention measures, to serve as a domestic hub and diverting some flights in the morning to the afternoon, among others.

Tan Son Nhat’s domestic terminal has frequently been overcrowded over the past week, forcing passengers to queue up for hours. Between April 14 and 19, the airport saw up to 80,000 passengers a day, according to its own statistics.

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