Vietnam to add night flights, ease domestic air congestion

By Doan Loan   January 24, 2022 | 11:56 pm PT
Vietnam to add night flights, ease domestic air congestion
Passengers at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi on Jan. 24, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Chieu
The aviation authority has ordered airlines to switch several flights during peak hours to nighttime after big crowds inundated major airports.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), the request on Monday serves to reduce the number of flights at the busiest time of day as too many passengers flock to Tan Son Nhat and Noi Bai international airports in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to fly home for the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.

The holiday, called Tet in Vietnam, is the biggest occasion for Vietnamese to reunite with their families. This year Tet break lasts nine days from January 29 to February 6.

The Ministry of Transport had already dropped the regulation to test flight passengers, but many have not kept up with the new rule and have still arrived early at the airport for the test, resulting in streams of people waiting at airline booths, the CAAV added.

Due to congestion, many flights have been delayed.

The aviation industry had initially planned to supply 2.85 million seats and 13,400 flights for the period between Jan. 23 to Feb. 16 to serve Tet travel demand, but it later decided to increase the number of seats to 3.2 million and the number of flights to 15,300, up 13 percent compared to last year.

On Jan. 21, the Ministry of Transport announced relaxed restrictions for passengers on domestic flights, allowing people not in quarantined locations or areas with very high coronavirus risks to skip showing vaccination certificates or proof of Covid-19 recovery. Children not in these areas also won't have to be tested to fly.

However, passengers must still perform medical declarations and use the PC-Covid app. They are still not allowed to fly if they have symptoms like coughing, fever, muscle ache, a sore throat or loss of taste.

The simplified requirements, plus localities having been asked not to quarantine people returning home for Tet, has led to an increase in travel demand compared to a week earlier.

Tan Son Nhat last Sunday reported only 19 flights at the busiest hour, which is between 11 a.m. and mid-day, or 79 percent of the total operating capacity in this hour.

Noi Bai has operated only 10 flights in the peak daytime hours, or 59 percent of the total capacity.

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