Vietnam’s domestic air market is starting to rebound. Most airlines resumed domestic flights last week but there is still room to grow. Nevertheless, the initial domestic flights offer some hope for airlines looking to Vietnam for inspiration.
Vietnamese airlines rebound
FlightGlobal reports that Vietnamese carriers are offering a decent run of domestic flights. Vietnam Airlines is flying up to eight daily flights on the busy Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City route. By May, the flag carrier intends to grow this to 11 daily flights. Two of these flights will be on Jetstar Pacific. Vietnam Airlines has a major stake in the low-cost carrier.
VietJet, another low-cost carrier, is also offering six daily flights on the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City route. Bamboo Airways is offering about four daily flights on the route as well.
Other cities in Vietnam, such as Da Nang, Hue, Vinh, and more, are also seeing flight service resume.
Still some signs of struggle
Bamboo Airways will continue to maintain growth. However, in 2020, the airline now plans on having 40 aircraft by the end of the year instead of the original 50.
Meanwhile, international flights remain slim. Airline crews will have personal protective equipment, and passengers should wear masks inflight. On the ground, passengers should maintain social distancing wherever possible.
Continuing a trend
After a strict lockdown, Vietnam is starting to follow China with an improvement in the domestic air market. While it will take time for airlines to rebound completely, this is a promising sign.
For the last few years, Vietnam has been a growing aviation market and a hub for international tourists thanks to its low prices and a favorable exchange rate. Not to mention, the country is a hub of city life, culture, and natural beauty. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic led to a loss of momentum and stagnation. Hopefully, this will be temporary.
What can other airlines learn?
For most airlines, local flights are the ones that will resume first. Different countries will start to open up borders and end lockdowns at different times. Domestic flights are not always significant sources of revenue for airlines. However, in this climate, anything is better than nothing.
Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City is one of the busiest routes in the world. Each airline operates flights on a near hourly basis. On a given day of normal operations, Vietnam Airlines alone operates over 20 daily flights. The same is true for low-cost carriers like VietJet Air.
Given the way these airlines are responding, airlines can expect a very light (under 50%) return to operations within the first two months of resuming services. Of course, the situation will vary from country-to-country. But, these numbers are not surprising. Passengers will face initial hesitation, additional health restrictions, and, unfortunately, some will have financial barriers to traveling again. This is what is contributing to the slow, gradual return of passengers instead of a sharp “V-shaped” rebound.
For now, Vietnamese carriers are showing robust domestic schedules in the summer and fall. While additional changes remain highly likely, airlines are currently seeing a slight uptick in demand and are preparing to gradually increase capacity for the remainder of 2020.