Vietnam’s biggest airport jammed by crowds, leaving many queuing for hours

An increasing number of passengers traveling by air has left HCMC's Tan Son Nhat International Airport congested, forcing many people to queue up for hours at security screening area.

Tan Son Nhat Airport, HCMC, Vietnam's largest airport, travel demand

On Friday, a Vietnam Airlines flight was scheduled to depart from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi at 10 a.m. But at 9:40 a.m. Nguyen Thanh, her husband and three-year-old daughter had yet to pass the security checkpoint, prompting airline staff to "rescue" the family ahead of departure.

Arriving at the airport at 8 a.m., they completed check-in and medical declaration procedures, then queued up for an hour waiting to pass the security checkpoint.

Another Vietnam Airlines flight was scheduled to leave HCMC for Cam Ranh at 10:10 a.m., about 30 minutes before departure, many passengers were still at the security checkpoint.

"My family was about to go on a weekend trip - I was surprised the airport was so crowded. I've only witnessed such scenes during the Tet holiday," a passenger named Nguyen Sy commented.

A representative of Tan Son Nhat airport, Vietnam's largest, said overcrowding got worse closer to the weekends.

On Wednesday, 64,000 passengers passed through the airport, but the number rose to 77.000 a day later.

In 2019, the airport received 40 million passengers, up 4.5 percent from the previous year but the figure was down 47 percent last year to 22 million due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tan Son Nhat airport has served 36 million passengers a year since 2017, well above its capacity. Construction of a third terminal will begin in October this year.

With Vietnam having contained its Covid-19 outbreaks, domestic air travel has returned to normal.

The latest Covid-19 outbreak in late January came just a few weeks before Lunar New Year, the country's biggest holiday, forcing many people to cancel travel plans.

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