Officials divided on scathing Asia survey of Vietnam’s airports

By Mai Ha, Thanh Nien News

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Passengers wait at Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport. Hanoi’s Noi Bai ranked fifth and Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat ranked eighth in the list of Asia’s worst airports published by the Guide to Sleeping in Airports. Photo: Mai Ha Passengers wait at Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport. Hanoi’s Noi Bai ranked fifth and Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat ranked eighth in the list of Asia’s worst airports published by the Guide to Sleeping in Airports. Photo: Mai Ha

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Aviation officials and experts have expressed contrasting opinions after a website derided Vietnam’s two major airports as among the worst in Asia.
Hanoi’s Noi Bai ranked fifth and Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat ranked eighth in the list of Asia’s worst airports published by the Guide to Sleeping in Airports.
On Tuesday the Central Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) issued a release saying the survey did not take a full and objective view of recent improvements made to the two airports.
Moreover the survey is not totally based on online travelers’ feedback, and was done by an agency not specializing in the field, it said.
It said big strides have been taken in improving the quality of services at the two airports.
Related agencies and businesses have also invested in upgrading infrastructure and facilities and raised the bar for the behavior of their staff, which has resulted in significant improvements, it claimed.
Nevertheless, it would consider the survey carefully to improve services at all airports across the country, it said in the release.
Aviation experts have admitted that the two airports cannot be ranked highly since they are overloaded.
Le Manh Hung, general director of the Airport Corporation of Vietnam, was candid: “No need to rank; passengers who traveled through other regional airports will recognize that our infrastructure and services are much worse.”
Noi Bai is designed to serve six million passengers a year but gets up to 13 million, while both domestic and international terminals at Tan Son Nhat are overloaded, he said.
But the infrastructure and services at the two airports cannot be improved due to lack of space.
Luong Hoai Nam, former general director of Jetstar Pacific Airlines, said the survey offered a general view of Vietnam’s airports.
“It was based on feedback from many young passengers, including backpackers. They focus on services at the terminals, including free water, wifi, and variety of foods at the restaurants, which are insufficient at our airports.
“Their criticism of our two airports is not unfair. We are also aware of it but do not speak out.”
Taxi services at Vietnamese airports, for instance, are a mess and makes passengers uncomfortable, he said.
“I can’t imagine when our airports will rank among the top ten.”
He said he had warned about overloading at Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat six years ago
A new terminal would open at Noi Bai by year end, but no solution is in sight for the overloading at Tan Son Nhat, he said.
“I am afraid there will be not enough seats for passengers waiting for their flights, let alone quality services like in foreign airports.”

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