Record aviation growth in VN

June 21, 2016 - 09:00

Việt Nam aviation is witnessing strong growth in the number of passengers as well as strategies to purchase new aircrafts. Deputy Minister of Transport, Nguyễn Nhật, speaks to Thời báo Kinh tế Việt Nam (Vietnam Economic Times) about the situation.

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyễn Nhật.
Viet Nam News

Could you please provide a thumb-nail description of the sector’s growth in 2016?

In the first six months of 2016, the country’s airports receive around 38.8 million passengers and 503,000 tonnes of cargo, an increase of 29.9 per cent and 7.9 per cent as compared to the same period last year. The year 2016 also marks the strongest growth of the aviation sector.

In the meantime, flight safety has always been basically well-performed. The number of flight incidents reported was 35, 2.8 per cent lower than the same period in 2015. Most of the incidents were due to technical faults (22) and the rest were caused by people.

Contrary to the sector’s strong growth, the number of foreign passengers using domestic airlines slightly decreases. Is it a drawback?

I do not think it is a drawback, on the contrary. Việt Nam’s airlines are growing well, but clearly enough international airlines are also increasing their flights to Việt Nam.

In fact, we would like to reduce the market share of domestic airlines to around 40 per cent to boost the number of international airlines’ flights to Việt Nam. In the region, international airlines are still considering Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong as key markets. This is the “competition for international destinations” strategy to which Việt Nam’s aviation is looking forward.

In regard to domestic market, Vietnam Airlines and VietjetAir are the main competitors with 40-42 per cent of market share. The competition surely benefits the people most.

The growth of airlines and the increase of international flights to Việt Nam have made congestion at airports more serious. How do you see the problem?

Congestion stems from the limited capacity of airport infrastructure and of the routes into and out of airports, and even in the sky during rush hours. There were cases in which a plane couldn’t land at the destined airport and had to wander aimlessly in the sky or had to land in another airport. I can give Tân Sơn Nhất Airport as an example. The Ministry of Transport and the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam have studied plans to accommodate overflow in Cam Ranh and Cần Thơ airports.

Could you please elaborate the project to ease congestion at Tân Sơn Nhất airport?

Tân Sơn Nhất Airport alone received more than 14 million passengers in the first half of 2016. The figure tells it all: use of the airport is on a sharp rise.

To cope with the situation, besides solutions in the short term, plans to expand the airport are also on the table. The Government recently approved the transfer of military flights out of the Tân Sơn Nhất Airport and has policy to set aside more military land for civil aviation to address the congestion.

In addition, HCM City plans to expand traffic routes approaching the airport, such as the upgrading of Trường Sơn junction and working with the Ministry of Defence to build a road parallel to Cộng Hòa road and expand the Hoàng Hoa Thám road.

The “only runway” at the Tân Sơn Nhất Airport needs to be fixed as quickly as possible, which is the main reason for the airport’s low cappacity. Currently, the city is planning to build a terminal for 10 million civilian and military passengers. On the other hand, the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam plans to expand the airport’s domestic terminal to accommodate some four or five million additional passengers.

When all the projects are completed, the airport will accommodate 40 million passengers annually.

Some claim that the Nội Bài Airport will face passenger overload in three years. What is your comment?

The Nội Bài Airport was designed for a capacity of 25 million passengers annually. At present, the number of domestic and foreign passengers to the airport is some 17 million, which is projected to increase to 19 million in 2017 and 20 million in 2020. Therefore, in the next four years, overload will not occur at the Nội Bài Airport.

However, the expansion of the airport to serve 50 million annually in 2030 needs to be worked out soon to meet growing demand.

The Government has agreed [to the expansion] in principle and the transport ministry and civil aviation administration are issuing plans for public comments. --VNS