Airlines must pay for delays

Airlines have paid passengers total compensation of around VND10 billion (US$450,000) since July for delayed flights after the Ministry of Transport issued a circular making such fines mandatory.

Passengers wait for their turns to complete procedures at Noi Bai International Airport in Ha Noi. The rate of delayed and postponed flights since July was 15-20 per cent. — VNS Photo Doan Tung

According to the Viet Nam Aviation Authority, the rate of delayed and postponed flights during the period was 15 – 20 per cent.

"Ninety per cent of delayed flights is because of aircraft coming back late and 5 per cent is because of technical faults," the Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourer) newspaper quoted Pham Vu Cuong, deputy director of HCM City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport Authority, as saying.

Delays caused by airport problems like waiting for passengers or traffic congestion are rare, at just 2 – 3 per cent, he said.

The general director of a budget airlines said carriers did not want to delay flights since they pay a lot of money to buy or lease airplanes and to pilots and cabin staff.

"Viet Nam's proportion of 80 per cent in-time flights is quite high for the region," he said.

"The aviation industry has taken many measures to reduce delays such as closing counters 40 minutes before take-off and increasing the turnaround time for planes by 5 to 10 minutes. But during peak periods like Lunar New Year, delays are unavoidable," he claimed.

"A series of new routes has just been inaugurated and more aircraft have come, but the infrastructure is overload, making it very difficult for flights to leave in time."

His airlines plans to increase night flights and avoid rush hour to minimise delays, he said.

A Vietjet Air spokesperson said the carrier was improving various aspects of its operations like better flight-time and technical management and working closer with airport and ground services operators.

Vietnam Airlines is reviewing and setting up a leaner management.

"Vietnam Airlines has adopted information technology, such as telephone, online and automatic check-ins to save time for passengers and ensure flights leave in time," a spokesperson said.

Tan Son Nhat Airport is expanding parking bays and runways and adding security-check gates.

"The most worrying thing is traffic congestion," Pham Vu Cuong said.

"Roads to Tan Son Nhat Airport can get congested at any time."

According to the ministry's circular, a compensation of VND200,000-400,000 ($9-18) should be paid if a domestic flight is delayed by four hours or more.

It is $25 – 150 for international flights depending on the distance.


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