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Aviation market gains more growth momentum

2009-10-22 (GMT + 7)

Vietnam’s aviation market has registered higher growth lately than earlier this year as indicated by figures provided by the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV).

Vo Huy Cuong, director of CAAV’s Air Transport Department, said nearly 13 million domestic and international passengers went through all airports in Vietnam in the first nine months of this year, up 5.5% on the year earlier period.

The January-September growth was higher than a mere 2% recorded in the first half of this year, and this is a clear sign of recovery for the country’s aviation market, though domestic airlines are still facing difficulties

Cuong credited the higher growth to strong demand of the domestic segment. He gave an example that more than 615,000 locals traveled by air in September alone, up 23% year on year. Cuong however said September was usually the start of the low season for air travel in Vietnam and that the demand would not pick up until early November.

The number of international passengers traveling by air to and from Vietnam in September dropped by 1.2% over the year earlier period to some 642,000, Cuong said. However, he did not disclose the number for the January-September period.

According to the General Statistics Office, more than 2.26 million international passengers traveled by air to and from Vietnam in the first nine months of the year, a year-on-year decrease of 10.6%.

“The local segment is the main driver for the whole aviation market recovery,” Cuong told the Daily last week. He said this was why the whole market still grew albeit at a slower rate than last year.

About 23.4 million passengers went through all airports in Vietnam last year, up 15.7% over 2007. Last year saw the number of domestic passengers exceed 14 million, a year-on-year increase of 21.4%.

Cuong said many challenges remained ahead despite the global economy was on the track of recovery and more optimistic forecasts for the gross domestic product growth of Vietnam.

In related news, Cuong said Vietnam’s first licensed private carrier VietJet Air had not submitted its plan to commence commercial flights this year to CAAV although the deadline of two years upon being licensed would be due this December.

An executive of VietJet Air said that the airline would announce such a plan soon but was unable to confirm when to start the maiden flight this year when asked by the Daily.

The private carrier with chartered capital of VND600 billion (US$33.6 million) had to announce delays for the take-off due to the impact of soaring fuel costs last year and the lower-than-expected demand this year.

Meanwhile, Mekong Aviation Joint Stock Co. (Mekong Air) has been quiet since the private airline received a license from the Ministry of Transport to operate domestic services in late 2008.

Cuong said CAAV had not received any plan from the VND200-billion carrier Mekong Air though its application unveiled its intention to operate some 10 small-sized aircraft for the services between HCMC and Can Tho, Phu Quoc and Rach Gia from 2010.

Source: VietNamNet/SGT

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