About 2,000 Vietnamese passengers of VietJet Air and Jetstar Pacific have been refused entry at Singapore’s Changi Airport in the first seven months of this year, the two no-frills carriers have said.
In a recent letter to the government, the airlines have asked for support from government agencies and the Vietnamese Embassy to Singapore in resolving the issue, which they said caused them significant losses.
Jetstar Pacific statistics showed that 393 passengers were turned away at Changi Airport in the first seven months of this year, and 544 in total since the carrier started operating the route in Nov. 2014.
VietJet Air said 1,515 passengers were refused entry into Singapore in the first half of this year. Since it launched the route in May 2014, more than 3,400 passengers were denied entry into Singapore, the carrier said.
Representatives of the airlines said Singapore authorities did not properly explain why those passengers were refused entry even though their passports and ID documents were valid.
According to a Tuoi Tre report, the airlines said Singapore required them to pay additional costs for such cases, including fees for the passengers’ holding rooms (17 Singapore dollars per hour) and surveillance staff (32 SGD per hour).
Jestar Pacific said these fees cost it 74,167 SGD in the first seven months of this year, while VietJet Air said it paid 450,000 SGD in the first half of this year, according to Tuoi Tre.
The two carriers said they also had to bear the financial burden of flying the passengers back to Vietnam.
An Jetstar Pacific official told Tuoi Tre that while in theory the passengers themselves are responsible to pay any fine or charge assessed by Singapore and for the cost of transporting them back to Vietnam, the airlines has no means to collect their money.
The Tuoi Tre report said the number of passengers of Vietnam Airlines and Singapore Airlines being turned away at Changi Airport was not as high as those of Jetstar and VietJet.
Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority last month request for an explanation from Singapore after several Vietnam women were put on planes back home without clear reasons on various occasions.
In its response, Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said that the passengers did not meet entry requirements.
According to a Straits Times report, the ICA did not reveal how many women were turned away, but said that although it welcomes visitors of all nationalities, "every visitor's entry into Singapore is neither a right nor automatic, and each entry is considered on its own merits".
Last year, more than 420,000 Vietnamese nationals visited Singapore, according to the Singapore Tourism Board - almost a third more than in 2010.