Vietnamese aviation officials are trying to encourage better customer service by lowering prices at airport restaurants and publishing explanations for flight delays and cancellations.
Vo Huy Cuong, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV), said during a visit to Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat international airports on Tuesday that the agency would publish the reasons for delayed and cancelled flights to help consumers make informed choices.
Cuong said the agency is collecting more information and plans a detailed report designed to push airlines to improve their service, he said.
CAAV statistics showed that between January and June, more than 20 percent of the total 74,000 domestic flights were delayed, an increase of 5.2 percent year-on-year.
The agency said cancellations and delays affected between one quarter and half of the flights operated by Vietnam’s three carriers: Vietnam Airlines, VietJetAir and Jetstar Pacific.
Many passengers complained to local media about a tendency for local airlines to only inform passengers of cancellations a couple hours before the scheduled departure time or after they've waited a couple hours at the airport.
Many also complained that they weren't given reasons for the changes or offered alternative flights.
Dang Tuan Tu, director of Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City, attributed the delays to the fact that the number of passengers has exceeded the airport’s designed capacity of 20 million a year since 2013, creating long lines at check-in and customs counters.
Cuong has asked the executives at the state-owned Airports Corporation of Vietnam to loosen their ground service monopoly at Noi Bai airport (in Hanoi) by providing an alternative to the current unit of national-carrier Vietnam Airlines.
After his visit, the Southern Airports Services Company, which oversees ground services at Tan Son Nhat, reduced prices on food and drinks served at the airport restaurants by 15 to 36 percent.
The new prices include VND55,000 (US$2.5) for a bowl of noodle soup, VND38,000 ($1.8) for a loaf of bread and omelet, and VND25,000 (more than one $1) for a glass of lime juice.
Nguyen Thuy Minh, director of the company, said the prices could be cut further as the authorities mull reducing rents for the restaurants.
The company has put out free water jugs in international terminals and would do the same at the domestic ones, Minh said.