Local media reported that Phu Quoc Airport located on this popular tourist island off the coast of the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang, will be sold by the Ministry of Transport. If the move is successful it could become a model for other airports to eventually transfer to private management to raise funds for the government to build new airports.

The ministry will consider transferring several airports to other investors, it said.

There is often criticism that taxes are used to build and run airports that are used by just a small percentage of the population that would benefit more from a bigger investment of public funds in education and health services.

Based on the ministry’s policy, ACV is now working towards selling Phu Quoc Airport, he said.

ACV board chairman, Nguyen Nguyen Hung, said it would not be difficult to find buyers for airport terminals and some other auxiliary components. However, problems would emerge when it comes to the runway transfer because runways at many airports are for both civil and military use.

Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam general director, Lai Xuan Thanh, cited investments in Phu Quoc airport came mostly from ACV’s capital, and therefore it was feasible to sell the airport to private investors.

The airport, cost VND3 trillion (USD135 million) to build and was opened 15 December 2012. It was the first international airport built from scratch by ACV.

Runways and ground facilities can accommodate long-range, wide-body aircraft such as Boeing 777-300, Boeing 747-400, and the Airbus A380-800.

Phu Quoc Airport should serve 2.65 million passengers a year by 2020 and up to 7 million passengers by 2030. There are plans to develop it into Vietnam’s version of Phuket, a popular island destination in South Thailand.

During January to August this year, the airport handled 5,632 flights with more than 666,000 passengers. The number of passengers through the airport is expected to hit 1 million this year, soaring 45% against last year.

Three local airlines namely Vietnam Airlines, VietJetAir and Jetstar Pacific operate domestic roundtrip flights from Phu Quoc to Hanoi, Can Tho and HCMC.

So far, only the Russian airline IKAR has launched an international air route to Phu Quoc with one charter a week.

Vietnam Airlines recently opened two international routes to Phu Quoc from Singapore and on 18 December will link the island to Siem Reap in Cambodia with three weekly flights using ATR 72 aircraft.

By Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit - TTR Weekly - November 6, 2014

Service poor at Vietnam airports

HANOI - Service at Vietnam’s main airports in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is not up to scratch according to Deputy Minister of Transport Phan Quy Tieu.

Talking to local media he said staff attitude to passengers was among the key reasons for the poor service quality at the Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat international airports.

He said the airline companies should admit that the quality of services at Vietnam’s two largest airports is very poor compared with competitive destinations.

“The main reason is poor infrastructure, but other factors such as the attitude of stewards and stewardesses, in-flight services and poor organisation and management have also contributed to overall poor service quality.”

Hanoi-based Noi Bai International Airport director, Vu The Phiet, was quoted as saying that despite the quality of services improving, capacity was far less than the demand in passenger traffic, which has increased year by year.

“The airport can handle 9 million passengers annually, but this month’s latest statistics show that the airport handled 11.5 million passengers so far this year, and is likely to increase to 14 million by the end of the year,” he said.

The airport has received complaints about a lack of waiting room chairs, currency exchange services and poor Internet service, as well as a shortage of toilet amenities.

The director also admitted that hygiene at the airport remained unsatisfactory, adding it has hired a specialised agency to do the job.

By Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit - TTR Weekly - November 5, 2014