HANOI -Transport Minister Dinh La Thang met with airport authorities this week to discuss a multitude of thefts from baggage at Viet Nam's airports.
At the meeting, the Minister described the situation as alarming.
Major General Nguyen Dinh Thuan, director of the Ministry of Public Security's Department of Economic Security, said 600 luggage thefts had been reported at airports nationwide since 2013.
He cited a case in which the chief executive officer of a bank travelling in a convoy with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on a business trip lost a suitcase. An official in his department lost an iPad from a bag that had been slit open.
Thuan said many bags had been slit at the exact places where valuable items where packed..
"It could not have happened by chance," the general said, suspecting baggage screeners, baggage handlers or airplane cleaners could be involved.
Lai Xuan Thanh, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of Viet Nam, told the meeting that despite the installation of more cameras, there were still many blind spots where there were no cameras, such as cargo holds on planes and cargo containers.
Further, many gates exclusively for airport staff were not checked by cameras, he said.
Representatives from the Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat international airports said they had installed more cameras at their airports.
They said they even ordered baggage handlers (porters) not wear clothes with pockets.
Transport minister Thang said baggage thefts not only spoilt the image of the aviation industry, but of the whole nation.
"We cannot let this continue as it is a sin against Vietnamese people and the nation," he said.
The minister said when a theft happened, the head of the team, division or section in charge of that shift or work day and leading officials at the airport would also be held accountable.
He instructed airport management to review all staff, especially checking personal histories.
"If the problem can't be fixed by the end of the year, leaders of airports with reported thefts and CAAV will be disciplined."
Thang blamed a lack of responsibility by airport leaders for the alarming rate of airport thefts, accusing them of having treated the problem as a minor issue.
"If they do not feel embarrassed and ashamed, the situation will continue," the minister said.
"They should have a feeling for the country, which is a destination for international travellers. They should not make tourists worry about their assets being stolen."