Though only four months into 2018, Vietnam’s civil aviation sector is already struggling to recover from a nosedive following a series of scandals which included an aircraft landing on an unfinished runway and a mental patient managing to board an aircraft without a ticket.
From January to April, domestic airlines hijacked the media’s attention with incidents both on the ground and in the air, forcing travelers to rethink flying due to serious safety and security concerns.
Domestic airlines first hit a rough patch in January when a female passenger on the no-fly list successfully boarded a plane to Russia, bypassing a stringent five-stage security protocol for international flights at airports in both countries.
The following month, on February 20, a foreigner with a ticket to travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Myanmar wound up boarding a Singapore-bound aircraft. Fortunately, he managed to find the correct plane before departure.
Capping off April was an incident involving a Vietnam Airlines flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang landing on an unfinished runway.
|The foreign man who boarded the incorrect flight to Singapore instead of Myanmar answers questions before leaving the aircraft. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
More serious incidents
March was a particularly turbulent month for the industry, with three separate security breaches at the country's airports and associated offices.
The first incident occurred on March 3 at Vinh Airport in north-central Vietnam when a mental patient managed to climb the airport’s perimeter fence in just 11 seconds, making his way through security, and boarding a Vietnam Airlines flight.
A few days later, at Dien Bien Phu Airport in the northern province of Dien Bien, authorities apprehended two trespassers, one of whom was under the influence of illegal drugs, who had snuck onto the airport’s grounds.
On March 20, a Swedish man ran into the office of the Southern Air Traffic Management Company in Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Binh District at around 2:00 am, causing a disturbance and shocking staff.
Authorities eventually removed the man from the scene.
In early April, a dog was able to freely make its way to a drainage ditch near a runway at Cat Bi International Airport in the northern city of Hai Phong.
Though an unusual situation, airport staff were able to remove the dog and reported no harm or threat to flight safety.
|A security booth was added to Vinh International Airport after a trespasser snuck onto the grounds. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
On April 11, a Saigon-bound Vietjet aircraft from Da Nang had its both engines fail shortly after departure at a height of approximately 1,200 meters.
The captain was able to return the plane to Da Nang International airport, landing safely just 39 minutes after takeoff with no harm to the 213 passengers on board.
The most recent scandal to rock the industry involved Vietnam Airlines flight VN-7344 from Ho Chi Minh City to Cam Ranh Airport in Khanh Hoa Province.
At 2:00 pm on April 29, the pilot attempted to land the plane on an under-construction runway.
The airline promptly issued an apology to the passengers and assured them that the flight's captain and first officer would be held accountable.
Both of April’s incidents are still under investigation by the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam.