Why Vietnam Airlines loses flight slots overseas

By Dat Nguyen   July 14, 2023 | 02:31 am PT
Why Vietnam Airlines loses flight slots overseas
A Vietnam Airlines aircraft is seen at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Vietnam Airlines has lost most of its flight slots in the U.K. due to low operation during the Covid-19 pandemic, while in India Vietnamese airlines have maxed out their allocated slots.

Vietnam and the U.K. agreed for each country’s airlines to operate seven trips per week to the other country, and Vietnam Airlines was operating seven trips a week in 2019.

But Covid-19 forced the airline to shut down its U.K. route in 2021 and it only resumed in summer 2022 with one or two flights a week between Hanoi and London.

The U.K., however, requires foreign airlines to use at least 70% of the number of slots allocated, and Vietnam Airlines was unable to meet this criterion.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has tried to negotiate for more slots but did not succeed as U.K. airlines are not flying to Vietnam.

In India, Vietnamese airlines are now operating all of the allocated slots of 28 a week, while Indian airlines are only using 14 slots to Vietnam.

All Vietnamese airlines are now seeking to pump up the number of slots, but the CAAV’s requests to four major cities in India have not been approved.

"It could be because Indian airlines are not using all of their slots," the CAAV said.

In China, Vietnamese airlines are not having trouble with flight slots, it added.

Vietnam Airlines is operating 19 flights a week to Chinese localities, around 25% of pre-pandemic levels.

It is not guaranteed that Vietnamese airlines will be able to retain the same number of slots for next summer, the CAAV added.

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