Domestic flights get close to full capacity

By Doan Loan, Hoang Phong    May 13, 2020 | 05:01 am PT
Domestic flights get close to full capacity
Aircraft of Vietjet and Vietnam Airlines at Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi. Photo by Shutterstock/Peacefoo.
Flights within Vietnam are getting close to full seating capacity following the lifting of social distancing restrictions on aircraft and passenger number limitations.

Low-cost carrier Vietjet Air said Tuesday that the last few days have seen flights on the Hanoi-HCMC route and those from Hanoi and HCMC to Da Nang operate at close to 90 percent capacity.

Flights to other localities are also running close to maximum capacity due to an increase in travel demand among Vietnamese after the country eased its social distancing restrictions from April 23.

National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines said it was achieving an average seating capacity of 82 percent on its domestic flights

The number of passengers going through Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi has been on the rise, with between 24,000 and 25,000 passengers traveling daily, which is however only half the pre-pandemic tally.

An airport representative said they anticipate domestic tourism to recover because tour companies are slashing prices to stimulate travel demand.

All Vietnamese carriers have announced plans to increase the frequency of domestic routes starting next month.

Vietnam Airlines said Tuesday that it will launch five more domestic routes this month to meet travel demand.

These include: a daily round-trip Ho Chi Minh City – Tuy Hoa (Phu Yen Province) flight, starting May 16; three round-trip Hai Phong – Nha Trang flights a week starting May 20; three round-trip Vinh (Nghe An Province) -Da Lat flights a week starting May 19; four round-trip Vinh-Buon Ma Thuot flights a week starting May 19; and three round-trip Thanh Hoa-Buon Ma Thuot flights a week starting May 27.

Vietnamese carriers were allowed to remove social distancing restrictions on aircraft and limitations on the number of passengers from May 7. Passengers on planes are no longer required to sit one seat apart, but they still have to keep a distance of one meter from each other while going through procedures at airports until boarding.

Carriers are also allowed to increase flight frequency on routes linked to Hanoi, HCMC and Da Nang depending on demand.

Dinh Viet Thang, director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), said the local aviation market has shown initial signs of recovery with the easing of social distancing, with airlines carrying 39,000 passengers per day, equaling 38 percent of the daily average seen last year.

Currently, airlines are co-ordinating efforts with major travel firms and resorts to develop stimulus packages aimed at restoring the domestic tourism market. The packages include preferential airfares and resort vouchers that aim to boost passenger numbers during the summer season, usually a peak time for domestic tourism.

Many top tourist destinations have reopened after a prolonged shutdown.

Vietnam has banned entry by foreign nationals since March 22 with exceptions and conditions, including 14-day quarantining on arrival. Since March 25, all international flights have been suspended to prevent the spread of the virus.

The aviation industry has been severely hit by the pandemic, and a recovery is only likely at the end of the year, the Transport Ministry has said. It estimated that the number of air passengers this year could fall by 46 percent to 43 million.

Vietnam recorded no new Covid-19 cases Wednesday, marking 27 straight days having gone without community transmission. The nation’s Covid-19 tally has remained at 288 since last Thursday, of this 36 are active infections.

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