Transportation Minister Dinh La Thang called for strict punishments following revelations that low-cost carrier VietJetAir had tried to hush up the fact that one of its pilots landed at the wrong airport on June 19
"I directly rebuked the director of Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) for submitting a late report and concealing information," he said at a meeting on the issue in Hanoi on Wednesday (June 25).
He instructed VietJet Air to take measures against the responsible parties, particularly those involved in the failed cover-up.
Admitting the ministry's managerial responsibility for the error, Thang apologized to passengers and residents.
“On the ministry’s behalf, I apologize to the passengers and others affected by this incident,” he said
On June 19, the VietJetAir flight landed at an airport some 140 kilometers away from its destination.
The hour-long flight was supposed to take nearly 200 passengers from Hanoi to the Central Highland resort town of Da Lat, but somehow ended up at Cam Ranh Airport near the central beach town of Nha Trang.
The CAAV reported that the low-cost carrier's dispatcher and flight crew didn't follow proper pre-flight protocols and failed to notice the airline had altered its flight schedule.
According to the CAAV's findings, the airline's dispatcher failed to inform the pilot of the change.
VietJet Air had decided the Airbus A320 would continue to carry passengers to Da Lat instead of re-routing to Cam Ranh, as previously scheduled.
The ground service staff was aware of the change and let passengers with tickets to Da Lat onto the plane.
But the dispatcher failed to provide a pre-flight manifest to the captain, inspectors said.
As a result, the airline’s dispatcher and flight crew were suspended following the incident.
At the Wednesday meeting, Transport Minister Thang said the incident was serious and directly threatened flight safety.
Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, VietJetAir’s general director, admitted their faults during and after the incident.
“The airline bears full responsibility for the incident. Our initial announcement about the incident was also inaccurate and confusing," she said. "On Sunday the company issued an official apology to the passengers and the press for disseminating incorrect information,”
Earlier, a VietJetAir spokesman told the press that the pilot was forced to divert the plane due to high winds over Da Lat and decided to land at Cam Ranh until the weather improved, the spokesman said.
After listening to reports from relevant parties, Thang instructed his deputy Pham Quy Tieu to review the case and take measures against the responsible parties and report back to him and the Prime Minister by July 5.