Vietnamese PM orders aviation insiders to cut delays by improving human element

By Vi Vu   August 15, 2017 | 11:02 pm PT
Vietnamese PM orders aviation insiders to cut delays by improving human element
Passengers check in at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
The industry can still serve rising passenger numbers despite strained infrastructure, the prime minister says.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has issued a directive instructing the aviation industry to improve services such as safety and flight schedules and stop blaming its problems on strained infrastructure.

Air travel in Vietnam has been booming in recent years and increased competition has led to better services, but flight delays and cancelations remain a major setback, the prime minister was quoted as saying in a statement presented at a meeting in Hanoi Wednesday with national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, the Vietnam Air Traffic Management Corporation and the Airports Corporation of Vietnam.

Mai Tien Dung, chairman of the Government Office, said at the meeting, which was not attended by the prime minister himself, that the agencies should cooperate to fix these problems.

A report by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam counted 14,000 delayed and canceled flights in the first six months of this year, or 12.2 percent of all flights operated by Vietnamese carriers, a slight drop from last year. Nearly 600 other flights were also canceled.

Late arrivals caused 70 percent of the delays, while other reasons included problems with the airlines, airport facilities, air traffic control and the weather, it said.

Flight delays and cancelations in Vietnam tend to be more frustrating than they should be, and many travelers complain that they are kept in the dark with little support when there is a problem.

Vietnam Airlines, budget carriers VietJet Air and Jetstar Pacific, and the Vietnam Air Services Company have been competing in a market that served 52.2 million passengers last year, up 29 percent from 2015. The domestic sector alone grew 30 percent with 28 million passengers, according to official data.

Dung said the industry is taking away a lot of customers from the crumbling railway sector, but it still needs to prove that it really is a better choice.

He cited the prime minister’s order as saying that Vietnamese airports need to raise their capacity as the current takeoff/landing rate of one per five-seven minutes is “low” compared to one every two minutes at many international airports.

“We often blame the infrastructure, but what about the human element?” he said.

He said the prime minister wants aviation insiders to look over management and personnel issues to see if they can raise the capacity at Saigon's Tan Son Nhat airport, for example, without having to physically expand it.

The country’s largest airport is trying to cope with 32 million passengers a year, far beyond its designed capacity of 25 million. Vietnamese authorities have spent years debating whether a golf course which covers 157 hectares (390 acres) of military land next to Tan Son Nhat should be taken over for the airport's expansion.

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