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Healthy Vietnam Airlines fine-tunes for regional boom

November 1, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Vietnam Airlines expects to be operating 170 aircraft in 2020, which will make it the second-largest full-service carrier in Southeast Asia, after Singapore Airlines.

The airline ordered 10 Airbus A350s some time ago and also has Boeing 787 Dreamliners on order. In the near future, changes will see Australians able to fly directly from Sydney and Melbourne to Hanoi, instead of landing at Ho Chi Minh City to pass through Customs and then proceed to Hanoi as a domestic sector.

Toan Xuan Ho

Toan Xuan Ho

Vietnam is a country on the rise, with fabulous tourism attractions in its own right, augmented by those in adjoining countries such as Laos, also served by Vietnam Airlines.

The airline is replacing ATR-72 turboprops with A321 jets on popular routes like Hanoi-Vientiane-Phnom Penh-Ho Chi Minh City; and Hanoi-Luang Prabang-Siem Reap.

Regional international flights include Ho Chi Minh City-Bangkok and Hanoi-Bangkok. These are doing well, the carrier’s Melbourne-based deputy general manager in Australia, Toan Xuan Ho, says. He recently accompanied a small group of journalists on a trip to Laos and Vietnam.

Airline services in Vietnam are booming to such an extent that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects Vietnam (population about 90 million) to become the world’s third-fastest growing market for international passengers and freight next year. Vietnam is also tipped to be the world’s second-fastest growing market for domestic passengers.

Vietnam’s Aviation Department expects 15% growth in domestic passengers this year – that’s more than double last year’s rate. The carrier will grow its fleet by 28% to 101 aircraft by 2015. It’s reportedly planning to offer stock on the public market next year, for the first time.

Good air services are essential in Vietnam as the country is 1650 kilometres long – a distance further than, say, flying Melbourne-Brisbane. It’s roughly the same distance as Sydney-Townsville.

Road and rail infrastructure not always reliable throughout Vietnam, let alone in surrounding countries, so air links are essential to connect cities and to link them with big tourism source markets like Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand and China. Australia is further away but always important.

To give an idea of Vietnam Airlines’ capacity, between January 19 and February 16 the carrier will operate 835 flights on its nine busiest routes, to cater for the Vietnamese New Year (Tet) holidays. This includes a 23% increase in flights on the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City-Hanoi route, bringing that to 385 services in total.

As well as Vietnamese and regional services, Vietnam Airlines continues to do well on long-haul markets to Sydney, Melbourne, Dubai, London, Paris and Moscow.

Written by : Peter Needham

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