Opinion divided over pricing of non-aviation services at airports

Thanh Nien News

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A food stall at a Vietnamese airport / FILE PHOTO
A Ho Chi Minh City lawmaker faces opposition for suggesting that providers of non-aviation services at Vietnamese airports have the right to set prices by themselves.
Nguyen Minh Ngoc with Southern Airports Services Co., Ltd. was speaking at a meeting held by lawmakers in HCMC to discuss the Ministry of Transport’s draft amendments to the Civil Aviation Law on Thursday, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.
Under the draft, service providers decide prices for their products and register them with the ministry.
The ministry is in charge of overseeing the pricing, and when necessary, organizes negotiations with businesses to decide prices or price ranges, it said.
The transport ministry introduced the change following passenger complaints about expensive yet mediocre foods sold at food stalls and restaurants at airports nationwide.
However, Ngoc said such negotiations were “unnecessary,” because service providers no longer hold monopolies at airports.
She said all products are listed publicly so customers can choose what suits them.
Whether goods are cheap or expensive depends on the cost of places where sellers run their business, she explained.
For instance, Ngoc said, the price of a bowl of pho (beef noodle soup) sold on the street is “definitely different” from that at a well-equipped restaurant, even though they are of the same quality.
But, Tran Du Lich did not agree, saying that goods at airports are “rips-off.”
He said he himself had checked prices of foods at airports and found that they were as expensive as those of five-star hotels, but only of average quality.
“A packet of instant noodles are sold for a few thousands of dong outside airports, but tens of thousands of dong at airports. If it’s not about monopoly, then what is it?”
Last year the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) issued a directive telling service providers at airports nationwide to amend prices to match their quality, in response to many complaints of passengers, including foreigners.
Lai Xuan Thanh with CAAV then told Tuoi Tre that there were between 3-5 companies selling food and commodities like souvenirs at each airport but the small number still created a monopolistic situation.
The Ministry of Transport’s draft amendments to the Civil Aviation Law is scheduled to be discussed at the National Assembly’s upcoming session to open on May 20, and is expected to be voted on at a year-end sitting.

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