Holiday air tickets in low demand as Covid stirs fear

By Thi Ha   November 17, 2021 | 01:31 am PT
Holiday air tickets in low demand as Covid stirs fear
A person disinfects the inside of an aircraft. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Anh
Air tickets for the upcoming Tet holiday are in low demand as people are reluctant to make travel plans to due to long quarantine time and a rising number of Covid-19 cases.

In previous years, Loan’s family had usually finished booking six Tet (Vietnam's Lunar New Year) air tickets for the Ho Chi Minh City – Da Nang route at a total price tag of over VND40 million by the end of August.

But this year, she has yet to make a decision.

"My two children are not vaccinated so we are reluctant to travel. We plan to stay in HCMC this year and visit our parents later [when the pandemic situation is stable]."

Hanh and her husband in Thu Duc City initially planned to bring their children to her hometown in the central highlands province of Kon Tum, but the 14-day quarantine policy for those yet to be vaccinated discourages her.

"There are only a few days of holiday, we don’t want to spend all of them in quarantine."

Ticket agents are reporting an unusual drop in demand compared to previous years in a time when sales often boom as people make travel plans for Tet, which falls in early February next year.

Hong, owner of a ticket office in Phu Nhuan District, said by this time last year she had sold hundreds of tickets for the biggest holiday of the year, but this year she had sold none.

"I have texted frequent customers but none have made any travel plans."

Airlines have also not released specific Tet travel plans as per usual.

Only Bamboo Airways and Vietjet Air have begun selling Tet tickets but with volume totaling 20 percent in the same period last year with prices around 15-20 percent lower.

A media representative of Vietnam Airlines said it is difficult to plan for Tet ticket sales.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) currently only allows airlines to sell Tet tickets for two routes a day or less.

Some insiders say the rising number of Covid-19 cases and the migration of workers from HCMC and Hanoi to their hometowns would lower air travel demand this year.

Vietnam recorded 10,250 new covid-19 cases Tuesday, the highest in nearly eight weeks.

As Tet ticket sales often account for a third of an airline’s revenue for the year, plunging demand is set to cause even more financial challenges to carriers, which have struggled to survive the pandemic

Vietnam Airlines posted a loss of VND8.58 trillion in the first six months, increasing its accumulative loss to VND17.77 trillion ($781.23 million).

Vietjet Air posted a first-half post-tax profit of VND121.8 billion, most of it coming from financial services.

The two airlines have not released earning figures for the third quarter, but most flights were suspended in the third quarter due to the fourth Covid-19 wave.

Bui Doan Ne, deputy chairman of Vietnam Aviation Business Association, said it is difficult to make forecasts about the recovery of airlines this year as the Covid-19 situation remains unpredictable.

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