Fifteen ground service employees hired by VietJet Air to handle check-in procedures at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport took sick leave on Tuesday, causing delays for 11 of the budget carrier’s flights.
Hanoi Ground Services JSC, the company responsible for providing VietJet with ground service personnel, has neither confirmed nor denied rumors of an ongoing strike staged by its employees.
News of chain-reaction delays for VietJet flights departing from Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi emerged on Facebook on Tuesday, with flyers warning each other of a possible strike among the airline’s ground service employees.
Some local news outlets have cited air ticket agents as confirming the strike, which they say is the result of long working hours, constant overtime, and inadequate pay.
According to Pham Van Hao, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Vietnam, Hanoi Ground Services Joint Stock Company (HGS) has a contract with VietJet Air to supply the carrier with personnel for check-in procedures at Noi Bai.
At around 2:30 am on Tuesday, 15 out of 51 HGS ground service employees scheduled to process check-ins for VietJet flights at the airport’s T1 terminal simultaneously called in sick, Hao said.
At the time, 15 flights operated by VietJet were queuing for check-ins.
The incident caused 11 domestic flights operated by the budget airline to be delayed by 5-20 minutes, while another flight suffered a 48-minute delay due the late arrival of the aircraft.
HGS leaders visited the employees and managed to persuade some of them to return to work, while eight of the employees continued with their sick leave, Hao said.
The company wound up mobilizing off-duty personnel to process check-ins for VietJet passengers, he added.
Later the same day, the CAA chaired a meeting between HGS, VietJet, and the Northern Airports Authority to clarify the causes behind the concurrent sick leave taken by HGS employees.
HGS has neither confirmed nor denied reports that its employees are on strike.
CAA has requested that the ground services company pay close attention to the benefits and working conditions of its employees in order to guarantee uninterrupted service at the northern hub during the current height of the air travel season.
HGS currently supplies ground services to 25 international and domestic airlines operating at Noi Bai International Airport.
The company said it is working with relevant authorities to verify rumors surrounding the incident, as well as preparing back-up plans to guarantee constant availability of ground service personnel for its partnered airlines.