Saturday, May 2, 2009

Airlines pare down flights to Vietnam as demand shrinks

01 May 2009

Vietnam Airlines and international airlines have shrunk their summer flight schedules to Vietnam as air demand to the destination drops further amid the economic crisis.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) to VietNamNet Bridge on Tuesday that preliminary data was showing an average year-on-year drop of 4 percent in international flights to Vietnam.

Vo Huy Cuong, Head of CAAV’s Air Transport Division, listed Vietnam Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Thai Air Asia as carriers which had reduced their services to Vietnam.

Thai Air Asia has reduced the daily flight frequency on its Hanoi–Bangkok route from three flights a day to two, whilst Vietnam Airlines has cut two flights to Busan, South Korea.

For the first quarter of 2009, Vietnam Airlines said it was mainly struggling with the 1.7 percent drop in its passenger and cargo figures, with a 9.3 percent drop in its overall international market.

According to Cuong, the reduction of flights, due to the economic downturn, will herald stunted growth in Vietnam’s aviation market.

However, there is good news for the country’s aviation market, with Air Asia adding four flights a week to its HCM City–Bangkok service, and Shanghai Airlines is scheduled to start thrice-weekly services between Hanoi and Shanghai this summer.

Northwest Airlines will also fly daily from HCM City to destinations in the US via Tokyo from June 1.

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