Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCM City has been urged to solve security problems related to passenger overload and cyberattacks, as well as the use of lasers by local residents (Photo courtesy of the airport authority)

HCM City (VNA) - Deputy PM Truong Hoa Binh has urged Tan Son Nhat international airport in HCM City to step up efforts to tackle airport overload, cyber-attacks and laser beam incidents to ensure the security of the southern region’s busiest airport.

Binh, who is also Chairman of the Civil Aviation Security Committee, made the request during a visit last week to inspect the airport’s security measures.  

The deputy PM urged the airport authority to regularly check runways, ensure IT network security and prevent smuggling of illegal goods via the airport.

Dang Tuan Tu, Director of the airport, said that 52 airlines were operating at the airport, including three domestic and 47 international airlines.  

The airport is facing many challenges, especially an airport overload, he said.

The airport welcomed more than 26.5 million passengers last year, a rise of 13.52 percent over the year’s plan and an increase of nearly 20 percent compared to 2014, Tu said.

Tan Son Nhat airport had by the end of October welcomed nearly 27 million passengers, of which international passengers were 9.8 million.

The figure is expected to reach 32 million by the end of the year, worsening the overload of the airport designed to handle only 25 million passengers a year, according to Tu.

The airport has two runways and 52 aprons (aircraft parking positions), which are insufficient to serve all landings and take-offs during peak hour, from 5:30am to 7:30am and from 10:30pm to 12:30am.

Tu said the airport security teams this year had managed to ensure the safety of all departures and arrivals, including 106 special flights that transport State officials and high-ranking officials of other countries.  

In addition, airport security forces discovered 55,716 cases in which passengers brought prohibited items onboard; 90 cases in which passengers illegally transported weapons; eight cases in which passengers falsely announced that bombs were on the aircraft; and 48 cases in which passengers caused public chaos at the airport.

All of the cases were managed well and had no serious consequences, according to Tu.   

Airport security forces have also caught four thieves onboard and discovered seven cases in which airport staff were carrying items onboard without declaration, in violation of regulations. 

The airport authority has also worked with the HCM City Police to raise public awareness about powerful lasers being used at night for entertainment purposes by local residents, usually young people.

In recent months, pilots have complained about incidents in which laser beams were directed at the cockpits of aircraft as they took off and landed.

The airport has operated a campaign to raise people’s awareness about aviation safety and security. It has also organised fire and rescue drills and improved the task of keeping birds away from the airport area.

Tan Son Nhat airport’s security teams consist of 981 staff operating 65 security scanners, 67 portable metal detectors, and two explosive detection devices, according to Tu.

To enhance security, the Tan Son Nhat Airport Authority has recommended establishing a police station at the airport, providing more advanced scanning devices and offering training for its staff, he said.

Deputy PM Truong Hoa Binh praised all the achievements by the airport authority, saying that the local aviation had achieved the highest growth in the world.

The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines has significantly improved its fleet with an increasing number of state-of-the-art aircraft like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350.

In addition, the civil aviation sector has not had any serious accidents during the last 18 years, Binh said.

Binh urged the airport authority to continue to ensure the safety and security of the airport with a focus on human resources, including improving the quality of airport staff and air traffic controllers as well as fighting cyber-attacks at the airport.

In July, a Chinese hacker group carried out several cyber-attacks at Tan Son Nhat and Noi Bai international airports. The hackers also took control of the speaker systems at the airports.

The airline’s official website was also hacked by another Chinese hacker group at the same time.-VNA