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Vietnam minister tells aviation officials airport baggage theft is their shame

Friday, June 19, 2015, 14:23 GMT+7
Vietnam minister tells aviation officials airport baggage theft is their shame
An airport employee loads luggage onto a plane at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi.

Those who hold managerial positions in the aviation sector must feel ashamed of the rising number of baggage thefts at airports throughout Vietnam, the transport minister said Thursday.

A number of passengers have reported that their luggage was stolen at Vietnamese airports, but the aviation sector is rarely able to hold any individuals accountable.

“Don’t just view these airport baggage thefts as something that is none of your business,” Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang told a meeting yesterday in Hanoi.

“The heads of relevant agencies must feel dishonored and ashamed when passengers of the airports they are in charge of fall victim to thefts.”

The minister pressed that the entire aviation sector, from the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam to airport authorities, must be held accountable for the rising number of baggage thefts.

“The top solution is to hold the management, from team leaders and heads of working shifts to the executives at the airport authority and the CAAV, responsible” Thang said.

Lai Xuan Thanh, head of the CAAV, admitted at the meeting that few of the airport luggage thefts have been detected and no units held responsible for these cases, except for airlines, which have to compensate passengers.

Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport receives the most complaints about luggage theft, Thanh noted.

Nguyen Dinh Thuan, head of the economic police unit under the Ministry of Public Security, said even an official from the ministry fell prey to the airport dishonesty.

“That official arrived from Noi Bai on an overseas business trip, and had his laptop and iPad stolen from the baggage,” Thuan said.

In another noteworthy case, a general director of a bank, who accompanied the prime minister on a trip to Japan, lost his luggage even though they traveled on a special flight, Thuan added.

“There are cases where the ground service employees are highly suspected,” he said.

“A Japanese passenger traveling from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi had his bag slashed at the exact spot where he kept his luxury watch, which suggests that the luggage screening employees were involved.”

Thuan put the blame on the ground service providers, which poorly pay their employees or lack responsibility in recruiting a greedy workforce.

Thanh, the CAAV chief, suggested such measures as installing more cameras at the airport luggage sections and even the cargo holds of airplanes.

But the transport minister said what matters the most is the humans, not machines.

“Even when cameras are installed, one can still turn their back to the devices and commit theft,” he said.

“We should thus strengthen the supervision over relevant units that handle the luggage.”

The minister added that the awareness of the airport employees should also be raised.

“Make them aware that any theft happening at the airport creates shame for themselves and their families,” he said.

“If the number of baggage thefts at airports cannot be reduced by the end of this year, even the director of the airport authorities will be punished.”

Passengers have made 168 complaints about having their luggage stolen at airports in the first half of this year, 111 of which are from international flights, according to the CAAV.

In 2013, 205 cases were reported, and the figure rose to 301 a year later.

Only eight airport employees were caught stealing from passenger luggage in 2013, nine in 2014, and five in the first six months of this year.

In the latest case, three passengers reported their luggage had been stolen after they arrived at Noi Bai from Bangkok on a VietJet Air flight on May 23.

The lost assets included clothes, perfume and cosmetic products of luxury brands.

The CAAV said in a preliminary report that the suitcases of these passengers might have had broken locks so the assets fell out, rather than being stolen.

“So you say the locks were broken and nothing other than the valuable items disappeared from these suitcases? Only kids will be fooled by your answer,” one reader commented on the news wesbite of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

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