Transport ministry clamps down on taxi drivers overcharging at Tân Sơn Nhất Airport

August 12, 2022 - 07:55
The Ministry of Transport has announced a plan to strengthen inspection and crack down on taxi drivers' illegal practices, such as enticing passengers, overcharging or refusing to take passengers at HCM City's Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport.
Taxis enter to pick up passengers at HCM City's Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport. The number of vehicles operating at the airport cannot meet the sudden increase in passenger demand. — VNA/VNS Photo

HCM CITY — The Ministry of Transport has announced a plan to strengthen inspection and crack down on taxi drivers' illegal practices, such as enticing passengers, overcharging or refusing to take passengers at the country's busiest airport, Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport in HCM City.

Deputy Minister Lê Anh Tuấn has urged inspectors from the city's Department of Transport, in cooperation with leaders of the Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport and the Southern Airport Authority, to punish taxi drivers who refuse to take passengers, as well as those who impose unreasonably high extra charges.

Tuấn has also asked units to arrange pick-up and drop-off areas, creating favourable conditions for buses, taxis, and app-based vehicles to park, pick up and drop off passengers.

This is among measures taken to solve the recent overcrowding at the country's busiest airport, with passengers having to queue up for hours and causing frustration for passengers.

The waiting area for check-in procedures at the airport's domestic terminal has been full of customers queuing in the past week. Some even sit and lie on the floor due to flight time changes, creating serious congestion inside the airport, Vietnam News Agency reported.

Lê Hồng Vân, who lives in Thủ Đức City, said that she and her children had to queue for more than two hours from the check-in to the security screening areas.

"My family has never had such a hard time travelling like that. We had to get up early at 4am to ensure we could board on time," she said.

Đỗ Văn Huân, who lives in southern Đồng Nai Province, said his family arrived at the airport three hours earlier than the flight time but still had to pay an additional VNĐ600,000 ($23) per person for a ticket exchange because of the late check-in time.

"We planned to arrive three hours before the flight time, but because of the traffic jam on the way and the congestion inside the airport for more than two hours, my family was late. We had to spend an additional VNĐ2.4 million changing four flight tickets," he said.

Overcrowding even occurs when passengers get on the bus to the aeroplane.

Long lines of passengers are waiting for check-in procedures at the Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport. — VNA/VNS Photo

Explaining the cause of congestion, the leader of the Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport said the number of passengers has increased beyond the regular threshold. All domestic flights are always full.

On average, the airport operates 700-750 take-offs and landings daily, with passengers exceeding 100,000 passengers per day.

Đinh Việt Thắng, Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, said that the congestion at the security screening area had many causes.

The overloaded domestic terminal and small security screening area make it impossible to install more screening doors. Most domestic flights take place in the early morning, overloading the security screening area.

Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport is designed to serve 25 million passengers per year, of which 15 million domestic passengers and 10 million international passengers. The airport has been overloaded since 2016 due to high passenger demand.

In 2018 and 2019, the airport received 38 million passengers and 41 million passengers, respectively. Of that, 24 million passengers and 27 million passengers were domestic passengers.

The airport overloading has led to chaos and scams among taxi services.

Nguyễn Thu Nguyệt, who lives in Tân Bình District, said she always had difficulties in booking app-based taxis to go home as her house was quite near the airport.

"The driver refused immediately or asked for more money," she said.

Lương Ngọc Minh, who lives in Thủ Đức District, said he paid VNĐ198,000 to take a taxi to the airport from his house but had to pay VNĐ450,000 for the way back.

"The taxi driver explained that he took the money for the trip, not according to the meter," he said.

Figures from the Centre for Aviation Security at the Tân Sơn Nhất Airport showed that in the first six months of this year, inspectors have detected and handled 301 cases of enticing guests, causing public disorder.

Nguyễn Minh Tuấn, Deputy Director of the Southern Airport Authority, said that the number of passengers flocking to the airport was too large. At the same time, the infrastructure was not guaranteed, causing congestion at the pick-up areas.

When many planes land, the demand for car rides increases, leading to a scramble for taxis and the illegal practices of taxi drivers.

Meanwhile, some passengers accepted the overcharging after a long time of waiting and booking the car.

Currently, 12 taxi companies, contract cars, and technology-based cars operate at the airport. About 15 per cent of customers need a car.

However, due to a shortage of cars, passengers have spent a lot of time waiting, causing local congestion at the airport.

On average, 42,000 passengers will need 6,300 car trips per day. If the number of passengers increases to 60,000, the number of car trips will be 9,000.

To ensure the number of cars, the airport has made a unified record on peak occasions to require taxi companies to provide adequate vehicles to serve passengers.

According to the city's Department of Transport, building a new car park, strictly handling the acts of enticing and overcharging customers, dividing traffic flows, and speeding up the construction of the T3 terminal are solutions to reduce the overloading.

Phan Công Bằng, Deputy Director of the department, said that the unit has cooperated with Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport and Tân Bình District Police to solve the traffic congestion.

The Southern Airport Authority said it has proposed building a parking lot and a buffer space for vehicles entering or exiting the airport. It has worked with local police to organise the traffic flows and coordinated with the city's Taxi Association to ensure the number of taxis operating at the airport, especially during peak hours.

Đỗ Ngọc Hải, head of the department's Transport Management Department, said that the department would mobilise inspectors to increase patrolling, inspecting vehicles, and deterring violations.

He said it was necessary to develop public transport to the airport. He suggested more bus routes and pick-up points at the domestic terminal to allow more buses to enter the airport.

Regarding the construction of T3 terminal, Bằng said in the recent meeting Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính requested the Airports Corporation of Vietnam and the city's People's Committee to start construction of T3 terminal in the third quarter of this year.

The city is working on site clearance for the project. The terminal will be put into operation in September 2024. — VNS