​Vietnamese tourists embrace air charter trend

The luxury-sounding service is actually not that expensive

A group of tourists at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

While traveling to Vietnam via air charter is common for Russian or Japanese tourists, Vietnamese holidaymakers are now also taking up the trend as the expensive-sounding service is affordable for some.

Local travel firms are organizing overseas tours using charter flights for Vietnamese and have received positive feedback based on their timely schedules and reasonable prices.

Healthy growth

When invited to book a five-day package to Japan via air charter, Ho Chi Minh City resident Tran Thi Thu Trang was initially concerned about the quality of the tour.

After discovering that the tour would cost VND26 million (US$1,145) per person, compared to the usual rate of more than VND30 million ($1,322), Trang made up her mind and eventually enjoyed the experience.

One Vietravel representative said the company was enjoying strong sales for tours via air charter as tourists can depart on time with little chance of delays or cancelations.

The tour company took some 700 air charter tourists to Japan’s Fukushima in both 2016 and 2017, and expects to take some 3,000 visitors there between February and April 2018.

“The key feature of the air charter tour is that guests can save 30 percent on conventional packages,” the company representative claimed.

He added that Vietravel is expanding its air charter network from Ho Chi Minh City to Thailand’s Phuket, South Korea’s Jeju and Lumbini, and Bodh Gaya in India.

While most of the tour packages using air charter are for overseas destinations, Fiditour is taking tourists to the southern island of Con Dao.

“Air charter allows us to offer tours at reasonable prices with quality ensured, boosting our competitive edge,” Fiditour’s head of marketing Tran Thi Bao Thu said.

A tour guide is seen outside Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A tour guide is seen at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Good price, great punctuality

Many travel operators have confirmed to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that tours using air charter typically cost 30-35 percent less than conventional ones.

According to industry insiders, tour organizers usually manage to make use of the return leg of charter flights to bring outbound tourists to Vietnam.

Under the current regulations, charter flights bringing tourists from overseas to Vietnam must return immediately, rather than wait until the foreign tourists finish their tours.

By arranging their own guests to travel on such return flights, Vietnamese travel firms are able to offer the tours at good prices.

For instance, while the Hanoi – Seoul round ticket normally costs some $350, the fare is only $200, including taxes and fees, on charter flights, leading to reasonably-priced tour packages.

Another factor enabling air-charter travel firms to cut their prices is that the tours generally always have at least 150 guests, allowing them to enjoy discounts from in-flight meal suppliers for example.

Travel experts have said that only big companies with strong financial muscle are able to join the race to offer tours via air charter.

Tour organizers have to attract at least 150 guests for their packages with charter flights to be profitable, meaning they risk losses if they pre-pay for the aircraft but fail to find enough passengers.

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