Handlers move luggage to an airplane at Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport. Photo: Mai Ha
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam on Wednesday launched security inspections at big airports, aiming to find out how and when baggage theft could happen despite increased surveillance.
Da Nang, Noi Bai, and Tan Son Nhat airports will be monitored for three days, said the agency, also known as CAAV.
The move came after several passengers at Hanoi's Noi Bai complained last month that their consigned suitcases were broken, and that their brand-name clothes and cosmetics stolen.
CAAV's deputy chief Dao Van Chuong said his agency has been informed of 23 cases of baggage theft so far this year, even though relevant agencies have strengthened security measures.
CAAV received 48 theft reports last year.
Speaking to the press, representatives of ground service providers at Noi Bai claimed they have not detected any wrongdoings among their staff.
Phuong Hong Minh, vice director of Hanoi Ground Services Company, said theft most likely took place when baggage was being categorized or being loaded onto aircraft.
His company did not find any problem with the procedure, he said.
Rules stipulate that employees are not allowed to carry valuable things like cell phones and tablets when working, and that they would have to go through checks by security guards when leaving the cargo area, according to Minh.
Who's to blame?
Nguyen Huu Duc, vice director Noi Bai International Airport Ground Services, a subsidiary of Vietnam Airlines, made a similar remark.
Whenever passengers reported their luggage had been stolen, his company would ask handlers to go through a body search and check their lockers, but so far they did not caught anyone stealing, Duc said.
Despite the companies' claims, aviation officials still have suspicions.
Hoang Thanh Quang, director of Noi Bai's aviation security center, said there was a chance that handlers conspired with those who were in charge of scanning luggage.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Phuong, vice director of Noi Bai's authority, also said since the whole process of handling consigned luggage was "close," it was impossible that an outsider could break in and steal things.
Meanwhile, a representative of Jetstar Pacific Airline, said in 2013 they busted a case in which their staff at Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat Airport colluded to steal from passengers.
Last year, a similar case was discovered with the involvement of cargo handlers, he said.