The skies around Da Nang, Vietnam, are crowded today for all the wrong reasons. The popular tourist spot was enjoying a boom on the back of resurgent domestic tourism. But 14 cases of COVID-19 in the area, the first since April, has seen Vietnamese authorities crackdown and tourists leave town.
80,000 tourists will leave Da Nang over four days
The Vietnamese Government wants tourists out of the area. Over the next four days, more than 100 flights will evacuate approximately 80,000 tourists from Da Nang. The flights will operate to 11 domestic destinations.
Today, July 28, there are more than 90 departures scheduled from Da Nang Airport. Carriers flying in and out include Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific, VietJet, and Bamboo Airways. These 90 departures include regularly scheduled flights in addition to the extra flights now laid on.
Da Nang is located just south of Hue, approximately midway along the Vietnamese coast. It is a booming tourist town, hosting 8.7 million visitors last year. Of that number, about two-thirds were Vietnamese tourists.
Vietnam’s airlines pin hopes on domestic tourism
Vietnam’s domestic tourist boom is surfing the wave of rising incomes and a proliferation of new domestic airlines. It doesn’t hurt that Vietnam’s beaches are pretty nice places to hang out at.
With Vietnam’s international borders shut to travelers, Vietnam’s fast-growing aviation sector has pinned its immediate fortunes on domestic travelers. They’ve got good reason to do so. In pre-COVID-19 times, passenger numbers in Vietnam were expected to grow at 7.8% per annum through to 2040. The route between Vietnam’s two biggest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh usually is one of the busiest in the world.
Vietnam’s airlines have invested heavily on the back of fundamentals like these. COVID-19 dealt the local airline industry a heavy blow, but Vietnam has done an excellent job of dealing with it. Subsequently, local airlines have been busy ramping up services over the last couple of months, buzzing domestic travelers around the place, including to Da Nang.
The Vietnamese Government’s swift response to this latest outbreak of COVID-19 could swing either way for Vietnam’s airlines.
Vietnam’s airlines respond to Da Nang situation
Da Nang isn’t going into lockdown. Instead, Da Nang locals are to practice social distancing. For the next few weeks, there may not be much inbound traffic to Da Nang for the airlines, but the rush to leave town and upsurge in flights will boost the airline’s bottom lines.
If Vietnam does as good a job at putting down this outbreak as they’ve done previously, Da Nang should be packed with tourists again pretty soon.
Meanwhile, Vietnam Airlines is waiving change fees and fare restrictions for Da Nang tickets through to August 31. The airline advises that if a refund is necessary, it will be in the form of a travel voucher.
Bamboo Airways is allowing affected passengers one change free of charge, and they’ll also waive any fare difference. They are also offering refunds. Changes and refunds must be made at least four hours before departure. This offer is valid for tickets issued for travel through to October 24.
Neither Jetstar Pacific nor VietJet is offering much information on their websites for affected Da Nang bound passengers. The imminent sale and rebranding of Jetstar Pacific to Pacific Airlines complicates the Jetstar Pacific situation. Jetstar says after July 31, they will no longer service existing Jetstar Pacific bookings.
Back at Da Nang, the airport will be doing brisk business over the next few days before things inevitably quieten down, and the region bunkers down to ride out the lastest COVID-19 outbreak.