Vietnam air passenger numbers nosedive in 2020

By Nguyen Quy   December 22, 2020 | 06:00 am PT
Vietnam air passenger numbers nosedive in 2020
A check-in area at Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat Airport is empty during the national social distancing period, April 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Only 66 million passengers passed through the country's airports this year, a 43.5 percent decrease given the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis and unfavorable weather conditions.

Twenty-two airports across Vietnam accommodated 424,000 safe flights operated by 68 foreign and five Vietnamese carriers this year, down 548 flights from 2019, according to a report released Monday by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam.

They also handled nearly 1.3 million tons of cargo, down 14.7 percent year-on-year.

2020's dark outlook has been ascribed to the unprecedented impacts of Covid-19 and historic flooding in central Vietnam, CAAV stated.

Dinh Viet Thang, head of CAAV, told an industry review meeting the Covid-19 pandemic had put the brakes on the global aviation industry. In Vietnam, regular international flights have not yet been allowed to enter Vietnam, except for some specific cases that require government approval.

Vietnam ordered the suspension of all international flights to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus since last March, with domestic travel demand taking a dive amid fears of the pandemic.

Between early October and mid-November, the central region and parts of the Central Highlands were hit by a succession of storms that brought torrential rains, resulting in severe flooding and landslides, forcing airports to close for several days to ensure passenger safety.

Five local carriers, Vietnam Airlines, its subsidiary VASCO, VietJet Air, Jetstar Pacific Airlines and Bamboo Airways, along with 68 foreign airlines from 25 countries and territories operate in the country.

CAAV reported 2,429 canceled flights by the five domestic carriers in the first 11 months this year due to technical problems, weather conditions and other reasons, up 1 percent year-on-year. The unit earlier counted over 18,000 delayed flights during the period, down 4.3 percent from 2019.

National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines and two budget carriers Vietjet Air and Bamboo Airlines have requested government support and refinancing loans. They estimated that under current conditions, the industry would only fully recover by 2023 at the earliest.

The National Assembly recently approved a support package for Vietnam Airlines.

Vietnam's aviation has been booming in recent years, with the country's biggest airports Tan Son Nhat in Saigon and Noi Bai in Hanoi usually inundated.

The $4.6 billion first phase of Long Thanh International Airport, designated for southern Dong Nai Province, has been approved by the government. Work is set to begin this month and complete in 2025.

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