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VietJet Plane Skids Off Runway, Causing Massive Delays at Tan Son Nhat

In the middle of a bout of stormy weather on Sunday, an airplane at Tan Son Nhat International Airport skidded off the runway at landing, causing massive delays to all flights to and from Saigon.

Tuoi Tre reports that at 12:10pm on Sunday, June 14, flight VJ322 by VietJet Air landed in Saigon from Phu Quoc Island. The Airbus A321neo, however, drifted off the runway into a grass patch, blowing out a tire in its landing gear.

All 217 passengers and eight members of the crew were safe and eventually vacated from the stuck aircraft, but the incident prompted Tan Son Nhat to close to the runway, wreaking havoc on flying schedules across the countries. It’s estimated that at least 190 flights had to be delayed or diverted to nearby airports.

VietJet acknowledged the incident and attributed it to rain and strong winds. Over the weekend, due to the influence of Storm Nuri, Vietnam’s first tropical storm of 2020, southern Vietnam and Saigon suffered from thunderstorms and extended periods of torrential rain that flooded the metropolis.

At 6:30pm on the same day, operations at Tan Son Nhat returned to normal, though the airplane wasn’t “rescued” from the site until this morning June 15. Since then, the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) has formed a task force and launched an investigation into the accident.

The team will analyze flight data and cockpit voice recordings from the plane’s black boxes to determine its cause. CAAV has also put the flight’s two pilots and six crew members on suspension to conduct the investigation.

Tuoi Tre also explained that the six-hour delay at Tan Son Nhat was due to constrains on runways. The aerodrome has two runways, 25R/07L and 25R/07R; the incident took place on the latter while the former was closed not long ago to undergo upgrades. Hence, the accident rendered both runways unusable until Tan Son Nhat temporarily reopened 07L, relieving pressure at the airport.

Zing reports that as of 9am this morning, the stuck airplane was returned to its hangar and the runways were reverted to their normal status before the incident.

The landing debacle foreshadows an intense period for air travel in Vietnam as both Tan Son Nhat and Noi Bai undergo runway repairs. Each aerodrome has two runways, whose conditions have deteriorated in recent years. While one undergoes upgrades, the other is forced to handle all traffic, so any hiccup, such as the Sunday skidding, will likely result in massive delays and thousands of stranded passengers.

[Image via Tuoi Tre]