Domestic aviation on the road to recovery

By Doan Loan   September 22, 2020 | 10:00 pm PT
Domestic aviation on the road to recovery
A Vietjet aircraft prepares to land at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Vietnam's aviation industry is gradually recovering with passenger numbers heading toward pre-pandemic levels after a months-long slump.

Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi handled 29,000 passengers daily during the weekend, nearly triple the daily average of August when there was a Covid-19 resurgence.

To Tu Ha, deputy director of the airport, said there has been a weekly increase of 15 percent since the beginning of September.

"As Vietnam is doing well in controlling the pandemic, we expect domestic travel growth to be maintained for the rest of the year as traveling abroad is mostly limited."

International flights have been halted since March.

Vietnam Airlines currently operates 200 flights a day, with the number of passengers rising from 17,500 in August to nearly 40,000 now.

It resumed services on six domestic routes this month and increased the frequency on eight others.

It plans to resume flying on six more routes next month, including popular travel destinations Da Lat in the Central Highlands and Nha Trang and Da Nang in the central region.

"The growth in number of passengers will help us pare trillions of dong in losses from our earlier forecast," a spokesperson said. The airline had forecast a loss of VND13 trillion ($560 million).

Bamboo Airways is also recovering with the number of passengers doubling this month to 12,000-15,000.

"We expect strong growth in the routes between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and Con Dao Island," a spokesperson said.

Budget airline Vietjet said passenger numbers have risen by 30 percent since last month though still less than in September last year.

A spokesperson for Vietjet said: "As the aviation market recovers, losses are being reduced. But airlines continue to face difficulties and we still need government support with taxes and fees."

Vietnamese carriers are also expecting a revenue boost from the resumption of flights to seven destinations including Japan, South Korea, China, and Thailand, a proposal the government has approved.

But Dinh Viet Thang, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, said Tuesday that flights to these destinations have not resumed due to the need for Vietnam and these countries to first reach agreement over testing, immigration and quarantine protocols.

Another challenge is that both Vietnamese and foreign carriers are having trouble identifying businesspeople and "experts," the only categories of non-diplomatic passengers allowed to enter Vietnam, he added.

The CAAV wants the Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take this into consideration when issuing visas so that airlines could sell tickets to the right passengers.

Vietnamese airlines carried 24.2 million passengers in the first eight months, down 35.1 percent year-on-year, according to the General Statistics Office.

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