|The poor services and poor infrastructure at the airports have been evident for years. — Photo vietnamnet.vn
by Khanh Van
Last week, top transport ministry and aviation officials confessed that services at Noi Bai airport in Ha Noi and Tan Son Nhat airport in HCM City were often poor and promised to make improvements.
The promise was made one week after the two airports were ranked among the worst in Asia by the Guide to Sleeping in Airports () – an international survey site.
Later better than never. But could things be changed?
The poor services and poor infrastructure at the airports have been evident for years. The public has long been dissatisfied with many issues of the aviation sector.
Many goods at the airports are sold at inflated prices. Several months ago, the high cost of instant noodles at the airports was spotlighted during a discussion on draft amendments to the Civil Aviation Law by the National Assembly Standing Committee.
Poor attitudes by airport staff also annoys passengers. The situation has become so bad that Transport Minister Dinh La Thang recently required staff to say hello, thank you and sorry to passengers as well as smiling, being helpful, gentle and understanding.
This does not cover other issues such as overloaded terminals, flight delays and even flights that land at the wrong destination.
I have doubts about the promised improvements because many leaders find it easier to talk about changes, but then do nothing.
Look at education for example. The sector's leaders have mapped out a series of master plans and programmes to improve the quality of the education system, but little is done. Extra fees are still collected at the beginning of each academic year. Extra classes are still held outside schools despite an official ban. Education still focuses on theory and less on practical applications.
Then there is the heathcare sector. Its leaders keep promising to make improvements, particularly when a medical scandal rocks the nation, but it is generally just a game of words.
Reducing overcrowding for hospitals, changing doctors' attitude towards patients, tightening control over private healthcare establishments and improving the quality of medical services are among the many stated goals.
But in fact, patients often still have to share beds with one or even two and three other patients. And many medical workers still have a poor attitude.
Looking back at the aviation sector, poor infrastructure is just the tip of the iceberg. The most important concern is human attitude. Travellers can cope with poor infrastructure, but unfriendly attitudes by airport staff is unforgivable.
I still remember the first time arriving at the Wattay International Airport in Vientiane in Laos a few years ago. The airport is far less modern than Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat airports, but the friendly and gentle attitude of Lao airport staff make passengers feel very welcome.
Vietnamese people have gained a reputation for hospitality and a friendly attitude towards foreign arrivals, but it seems that we could be losing this in our bigger airports.
Improvements in infrastructure take time and money, but changing the attitude of the airport staff is surely much easier.
Passengers will welcome any improvement made by the aviation sector. They do not expect the two airports to become the best in the region and do not expect to be treated like royalty, just as paying customers.
We look forward to the changes, later better than never. — VNS