The VN321 flight from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city (HCM City) on July 27 took off as scheduled, but it could not land at the scheduled time. Passengers were told that the landing would land 10 minutes later than planned, because the aircraft could only land after two other airplanes had landed.
After hearing of the delay, a passenger ruefully noted: “Another traffic jam.” The passenger sitting next to him complained: “I thought traffic congestion only occurs on land, but it happens in the air too”.
A Thai businessman who frequently flies between Hanoi and HCM City was not surprised by the delay. He said traffic jams and landing delays occur regularly.
He added that the landing delays mostly occur on the Hanoi-HCM City plane route. On his last flight two weeks ago, he arrived late because the aircraft landing was delayed by 20 minutes.
“I regularly fly abroad on business, and I sometimes have to wait 30 minutes before the plane can land. However, this only happens when the destination countries have big events or festivals and they receive too many high ranking leaders, businessmen and travelers ,” noted the Thai businessman.
Air traffic congestion has been a problem for several years now, as big international airports have to receive too many airplanes to serve the increasing travel demands of passengers. In 2008, Vietnam Airlines expressed its concern that some airports were not capable of receiving many aircrafts at the same time.
An official from Vietnam Airlines said that the delays have occurred on many domestic air routes. He has warned that the situation will become more serious in the future if air carriers continue to charter or purchase more airplanes to upgrade their fleet while the infrastructure does not improve. It will affect Vietnam travel and many other fields.
Meanwhile, Lai Xuan Thanh, Deputy Director of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV), admitted that a lack of available parking spaces is now a major headache for the aviation management agency itself. Many of the projects to expand and upgrade existing airports are under consideration. However, Thanh said, it will take considerable time and capital to implement the projects.
VnExpress newspaper quoted an aviation expert as saying that Tan Son Nhat and Noi Bai airports have become overloaded, while big projects to build a T2 terminal at Tan Son Nhat and a T1 terminal at Noi Bai are being implemented. Tan Son Nhat airport can currently serve 150 flights every day, while Noi Bai can serve nearly 90 flights.
As planned, the private airline Mekong Air will receive its first aircraft this month and will provide commercial flights in October. Vietjet Air is also hurrying to take off.
The budget airline has announced it will receive an A320 in October. Its fleet will include 16 airplanes by 2014, expanding from the five planes it currently has. The national air carrier Vietnam Airlines will also have more than 40 planes by 2015.
Existing airline carriers purchase new airplanes to upgrade their fleets, with more private airlines attempting to join the market. Over 40 international airlines have a presence in Vietnam. All these factors create concern that air traffic congestion will become more serious in the future.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has more and more private airplanes. To date, Vietnamese businessmen received two private airplanes. Most recently, T&T Football Club has announced it will purchase a private aircraft. Two other prominent men in HCM City and Hanoi are also planning to buy private airplanes.