Airlines plan to provide more flights on Tet Lunar New Year holiday
2009-12-16 (GMT + 7)
Air tickets for some short-distance air routes have run out, though Tet is two months away. Vietnam Airlines has decided to provide 850 more flights on Tet, anticipating the 20 percent increase in the number of passengers on the holiday. Jetstar Pacific said it is keeping a close watch over the market in order to set up its own suitable flight schedule.
To date, the national flag air carrier Vietnam Airlines has been the only airline which has announced plans to increase the number of flights on Tet holiday. The 850 additional flights will be provided in the period between February 1, 2010 and February 28, 2010.
Despite the economic downturn, the air carrier still forecasts a 20 percent increase in the number of passengers in comparison with the previous Tet.
Especially, on the Hanoi-HCM City air route, the air carrier plans to increase air freight capacity by 45 percent on average and by 85 percent on the highest peak days (which is equivalent to 6,500-7,500 seats per day, one way).
As for the HCM City-Da Nang air route, the freight capacity will be raised by 1,600-3,900 seats per day (one way), an increase of 65 percent in comparison with ordinary days and 120 percent on the highest peak day.
The Hanoi – HCM City – Hanoi air route alone will see additional 562 flights with the earliest flights in the day departing at 5.30 am and the latest at 11.30 pm. The HCM City-Da Nang air route will have 288 additional flights.
With budget Jetstar Pacific Airlines, a ticket shortage has been reported since July 2009.
On the key air route Hanoi-HCM City, Jetstar Pacific is providing 11 flights per day. With the current fleet of five B 737s and one A320, the air carrier cannot raise the capacity unless it has more aircraft.
Therefore, the air carrier does not plan to increase capacity during the Tet holiday. But it has said it will keep close watch over the situation to make suitable adjustments.
Indochina Airlines has several times delayed its flight schedule. After returning the only chartered aircraft to its foreign partner due to the financial difficulties, the airline stated that it would resume flights on December 15. However, it has, once again, asked for the permission to delay until December 25.
Indochina Airlines is facing the risk of having its license revoked if it cannot settle debts and set up feasible business plan to be submitted to the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV).
Luong Hoai Nam, former General Director of Jetstar Pacific, said that in general, airlines are not really interested in providing more flights during the Tet season as they do not have ‘driving force’ to do that.
Nam said that the high demand for travel only occurred with one way flights, while return flights are always in low demand. In the days just before Tet, the demand is always high for south to north tickets, but few want to fly north to south.
Therefore, Nam said, Jetstar Pacific and other airlines do not see much benefit in increasing capacity, because the more air carriers fly, the bigger loss they will suffer.