Vietnam Makes Way for Open Skies

According to the IATA, Vietnam is one of the fastest growing aviation markets globally. In January 2015, the ASEAN Open Skies policy was implemented, allowing airlines to fly freely throughout the ASEAN member states in a unified air transport market. Continued strong market growth presents opportunities as Vietnam makes large investments in airport construction and upgrades, aircraft fleet expansion, air traffic service enhancements, aircraft maintenance, overhaul capacity, and service development.

To meet the growing demand, in February 2018 the government of Vietnam revised the country’s aviation industry development plan until 2020, with a vision towards 2030 (Decision No.236/QĐ-TTg). Under the revised master plan, passenger traffic through airports is estimated to reach 131 million by 2020 with an average growth rate of 16% per year from now until 2020.

The four main commercial airlines, Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, Jetstar Pacific and Vietnam Air Services Company (Vasco), currently operate over 160 aircrafts; 77% of them are Airbus A320s & A321s. Vietnam’s airlines are buying new aircraft to restructure their fleets and expand operations to reach two hundred and twenty aircraft by 2020 and 400 aircraft by 2030.

Vietnam Airlines, the national flag carrier, plans to increase its fleet to 101 by 2019 and hopes to launch direct routes to the United States with the destination being either San Francisco or Los Angeles with their Boeing 787-10s and A350-900XWBs by late 2019.

VietJet, a privately owned low-cost carrier (LCC), currently operates 38 domestic routes and 44 international routes and plans to expand to 42 domestic routes and 60 international routes. The carrier is looking to other Asia and U.S destinations through code share alliances.

Bamboo Airways, a proposed hybrid carrier owned by Vietnamese property developer FLC Group, plans to begin operations by late 2018 with 24 domestic routes and has plans to launch 16 international routes by 2023.

Air Asia is planning to enter the market through a joint venture with Gumin and Hai Au Aviation, a subsidiary of Thien Minh Group, to establish a new low-cost carrier.

For the Russian markets, Vietnamese airlines plan to open up new routes to Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok, reopen the Nha Trang-Moscow route and increase the frequency of flights between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Moscow.

The government scheme will also seek to open direct flights to other potential markets such as the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland and South Africa.

Qatar Airways has announced the launch of a new direct flight from Doha to Danang as of 19 December 2018, the airline’s third Vietnamese destination. The flights will be operated four times a week with a Boeing 787-8 aircraft, which has 22 seats in Class ‘Business’ and 232 seats in Tourist. Passengers traveling Europe can connect with Danang with a stopover in Doha. The new air route will help promote trade, investment and tourism between Vietnam’s central region, the Middle East and destinations the carrier is flying to (Europe, Africa, etc.).

Edelweiss, Switzerland’s leading leisure airline and sister company of Swiss International Air Lines, will commence direct flights between Zurich and HCMC in November this year to enable Swiss and other European tourists to reach Vietnam with ease and in comfort. Diethelm Travel will develop new travel itineraries in Switzerland in combination with the Edelweiss Air flight and offer customised journeys to cater to each individual need soon enough.

The development of these new air routes is also making Vietnam’s dynamic tourism industry fly higher so that Vietnam can maximise its venue capacity to become the fastest-growing luxury MICE destination in Asia.