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Concerns aplenty after Vietjet banned from offering additional flights during Tet travel season

Thursday, December 27, 2018, 14:18 GMT+7
Concerns aplenty after Vietjet banned from offering additional flights during Tet travel season
A Vietjet plane is seen at Cam Ranh International Airport, south-central Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV)’s edict that Vietjet will be unable to add any extra flights to its current offerings during the upcoming Lunar New Year is prompting serious concerns over the looming air ticket scarcity sure to befall the country during its most anticipated holiday.

Low-cost Vietnamese carrier Vietjet’s tight supervision by CAAV and the restriction placed over its flight offerings come in the wake of several incidents involving the airline’s planes earlier this week.

The news has worried air travelers, when the Lunar New Year, or Tet, is only a little more than a month away.

“I intended to fly Vietjet on Tet but the news that it won’t be adding extra flights means I may not be able to buy a ticket,” said Dang Thi Thanh Mai, a resident in Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Binh District.

According to data released by CAAV, Vietnam’s air carriers are hoping to offer nearly 5,800 extra flights - equivalent to 1.2 million seats - during the upcoming Tet holiday in early February.

More than 2,000 of the proposed flight additions were submitted by Vietnam Airlines, 99 percent of which were to domestic destinations. Meanwhile, 3,500 of the proposed additions were submitted by Vietjet, 77 percent of which were for inbound services.

However, it is likely CAAV will approve far fewer than the proposed flights, particularly as it hopes to tighten restrictions on Vietjet in the wake of several incidents involving the carrier in a two-day period.

On Tuesday, a Vietjet flight landed on the wrong runway at Cam Ranh airport in south-central Vietnam, just one day after another Vietjet flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Taiwan due to technical warnings.

CAAV assigned several officials to closely monitor Vietjet and announced tighter restrictions on any new flights for the airline that same day.

The next day, however, a Da Nang-bound flight of Vietjet was denied take-off from Hanoi for technical issues.

Currently, CAAV has yet to decide on how many additional flights of Vietjet will be cut down.

Meanwhile, an aviation expert reassured air travelers that other airlines are totally capable of covering Vietjet’s vacancy if the low-cost carrier’s proposed extra flights are actually rejected.

Speaking on the issue, a Vietjet official told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Wednesday afternoon that the airline’s schedule and ticket sales are operating as normal.

“The airline will hold discussions with aviation authorities about plans for additional flights,” the Vietjet leader said.

Behind-schedule unfinished runway 

On Tuesday morning, Vietjet flight VJ689 landed on under-construction runway No. 2 at Cam Ranh International Airport in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa. 

The runway was meant to be completed in August of this year, but construction remains far behind schedule. Lamp posts and a taxiway connecting it to the apron area and end of runway No. 1 have yet to be installed.

Fortunately, the incomplete state of the runway does not affect landing in standard conditions, according to Huynh Ky Tram, a retired director of a management board overseeing transport construction and investment projects in Khanh Hoa.

“All signal lines and lights on runway No. 2 have been fully installed in accordance with regulations that they can be seen very clearly from the plane in the sky,” Tram said.

Flight calibration will be carried out on runway No .2 on Jan 18, 2019 for CAAV to test if the runway is ready for landing and take-off before it is put into official operation, according to Dang Huu Tai, an official tapped for Tram’s former position.

Tuesday’s wrong-runway landing was not the first time the unfinished runway No. 2 at Cam Ranh International Airport had unexpectedly welcomed a plane.

On April 29, a Vietnam Airlines aircraft carrying more than 200 passengers from Ho Chi Minh City also landed on the runway. The pilot was at fault.

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Bao Anh / Tuoi Tre News

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