While the international aviation industry has encountered many difficulties returning to pre-pandemic levels, the Vietnamese aviation industry has made significant efforts to overcome these challenges and become a positive example in the world.
With international demand for flights surging during the vacation season, several airports have experienced delays, cancelations, or missing baggage.
While the aviation industry of many countries is struggling with such problems, that of Vietnam has been recognized as a ‘good example’ of managing to increase the number of flights to meet the high demand following the pandemic without major issues.
Difficulties with international travel
Instead of getting a direct flight from Finland to France as planned, Hoang Quyen and her family had an unpleasant experience because the airline changed the flight at the last minute.
Only when they got to the check-in counter at the airport were they informed that the flight would be delayed by three hours. They also had to take a flight with a stopover instead of a direct service as booked.
So they took a flight from Helsinki-Vantaa Airport to Copenhagen in Denmark and from there another one to France.
The airline explained that they had informed their passengers about the problem by email about two hours before the departure time, and the reason was that the crew suddenly fell ill.
N.H.D., a resident of Binh Thanh District in Ho Chi Minh City, said that in the summer, when he was traveling to Europe with his family, he witnessed chaotic scenes at the airport in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Hundreds of passengers stood in long lines waiting for their turn. There was also a dense crowd at the airport entrance. “Many passengers waited in kilometer-long lines,” D. recalled.
Indeed, many passengers have complained about the chaos at some international airports, sharing videos and photos as evidence.
It is easy to see images of passengers waiting in droves at the terminals or thousands of kilograms of luggage that could not be collected due to an overwhelming and serious shortage of employees in the aviation industry.
These images were posted with the warning that it would be difficult to claim checked luggage when flying to Europe, so passengers should take carry-on baggage on such trips.
The airline industry lost about 2-3 million jobs during the COVID -19 pandemic, with ground handling and security services the hardest hit.
Travel demand has recovered so quickly that the international airline industry has not been able to adjust immediately. The industry has had difficulty recruiting enough staff in recent months.
A different picture of Vietnam’s airlines
In the first eight months of 2022, the 21 airports under the control of the Airports Corporation of Vietnam handled more than 66 million passengers. The daily passenger record was set on July 10, 2022. Many of Vietnam’s airports operate domestic terminals that exceed their capacity.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (ACV), the number of passengers on domestic flights has recovered so quickly that pre-pandemic levels have been exceeded. This rapid recovery puts a lot of pressure on domestic terminals, and some of the infrastructure is reaching its limit.
At the moment, there is a pervasive shortage of staff in the aviation industry, including air traffic controllers, security officers, baggage handlers, and check-in personnel.
Despite this situation, it is impossible to hire more employees immediately. The hiring process can take 2-3 months.
With so many challenges, it would take a lot of effort for the aviation industry to maintain anything close to smooth operations, even as domestic flights accelerate and passengers flock to airports.
In fact, Vietnam has been internationally appreciated for having a domestic market with the fastest development.
According to Nguyen Dinh Hung, general director of Saigon Ground Services JSC, said that airlines faced a big challenge during the summer.
During peak periods, they handle 200-300 flights per day at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, compared to only 20-30 per day during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have to deploy staff from all over to help during the peak period, and fortunately we are able to handle the situation successfully,” said Hung.
Dinh Viet Phuong, general manager of VietJet Air, praised the timely and decisive measures taken by the government and administrative authorities in reopening the tourism industry, which brought good results to the aviation industry in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Phuong, VietJet could resume its domestic flight routes and open new potential services thanks to more convenient entry procedures at airports.
India is one of the countries where VietJet has opened new routes to.
The Vietnamese budget airline opened 17 routes to India from various cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and Phu Quoc.
VietJet's new markets make Vietnam a popular destination for tourists from South Asia.
According to Nguyen Quoc Phuong, deputy director of ACV, given the severe staff shortage and limited infrastructure in the aviation industry, it is understandable that there will be inconveniences or problems when passenger traffic is high.
“If you take a look at European airports,” Phuong said, “you can see that the Vietnamese aviation industry has become a positive example of maintaining safe flights and stable services despite a substantial number of passengers.”
To make the industry a leading economic force that can spur other industries, it is necessary for the authorities to provide more decisive support, according to aviation industry experts.
The experts suggested that the aviation industry should no longer be regulated in the same way as during the pandemic. In addition, the national government should offer more financial packages to help the industry, such as providing a two-percent interest package during the pandemic.
They also suggested that the VAT tax should be reduced by 3-5 percent, which can help the industry both support passengers and curb inflation.
In addition, the authorities are expected to abolish the special consumption tax on oil or gas, allow the aviation industry to impose a surcharge on fuel, and expand the visa waiver program to improve competitiveness.
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