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As travel demand surges, Vietnamese airlines plan more late-night flights during holiday season

As travel demand surges, Vietnamese airlines plan more late-night flights during holiday season

Tuesday, January 19, 2021, 12:54 GMT+7
As travel demand surges, Vietnamese airlines plan more late-night flights during holiday season
Passengers of Vietnam Airlines disembark the airplane after a night flight. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Domestic airlines are adding more late-night flights to their schedule to respond to the spike in travel demand during the Lunar New Year holiday season.

Air carriers have mobilized their full capacity to keep up with the surge of customer demands during the holiday season, with more departures added during the late hours as well as early mornings from 1:00 am to 5:00 am, said the firms’ representatives.

Answering Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, the carriers said they have liaised with airports and ground service providers to ensure optimal service quality on late-night flights.

“Unlike previous years, night flights on peak travel days cost less than daytime fares,” an airline representative revealed.

Competitive fares

Although the Lunar New Year holiday is less than a month away, flight tickets are still abundantly in stock.

In the meantime, airlines are adding more flight trips to their holiday schedule, which is accompanied by an array of promotional campaigns.

From the customers’ viewpoint, the ticket pricing for this year’s holiday season has been much more volatile than the past years’, with tickets still largely available for the peak period between February 8-12 and February 15-19.

Domestic airlines list around 30-35 trips per day for the Ho Chi Minh City – Hanoi route, with Vietjet providing the cheapest fares from VND2.1-2.8 million (US$90-121) per passenger, while Vietnam Airlines offers the highest price range at VND3.5-4.6 million ($151-198) per ticket.

Price for Vietnam Airlines’ late-night tickets, however, is set at VND200,000-300,000 ($9-13) lower than flights during the days.

During the peak days from February 6 to 12, up to five flights during late hours are scheduled, while more flights departing as late as 11:30 pm and as early as 5:00 am are also listed.

Pham Thi Ty, a resident in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Thanh District, saved VND2 million ($86) by purchasing four flight tickets that depart at the odd hours of 4:30 am instead of the conventional daytime.

According to Ty, it would cost her VND9.2 million ($400) for four tickets to Da Nang City from Ho Chi Minh City had she chosen to depart in the regular hours.

“It’s the Lunar New Year after all, [I can] wake up earlier for the 4:30 am flight in order to land at Da Nang at 6:00 am. The crowd at the check-in counter would be less intense at that hour. Once I reach the arrival airport, I can board a bus and go straight back home,” Ty said.

Passengers of Jetstar Pacific, currently Pacific Airlines, board the airplane at night. Photo: C.Trung / Tuoi Tre

Passengers of Jetstar Pacific, currently Pacific Airlines, board an airplane at night. Photo: C.Trung / Tuoi Tre

New routes, new promotion

According to Nguyen Quang Trung, head of planning and development at Vietnam Airlines, the number of late-night flights for the 2021 Lunar New Year has increased 30 percent compared to last year, with the majority being scheduled during peak days.

As part of the plan to focus on the domestic market, the boost in late-night flights will also help to mitigate the burden for the air operator as well as airports during the holiday rush, while offering choices of reasonable price to customers.

According to Trung, ticket price for the 2021 Lunar New Year has dropped 10 percent compared to the previous holiday season, while Vietnam Airlines has not kept on offering new options to customers with new economy ticket class and promotion programs.

The airline is also eyeing more late-night departures with even lower fares in case flight demands remain unfulfilled.

The challenge, however, is the lack of time slots and the unwelcoming position of airports when it comes to late-night service.

“The operational cost for the terminals, utilities and staff is extremely high during the late hours. For that reason, more late-night flights would not prove worthwhile for some airports with low traffic,’ the representative explained.

According to a leader of the Airports Corporation of Vietnam, 21 domestic airports were required to assume the position for the peak holiday season, which involves ensuring service quality and safety measures.

He assured that province-level airports will still maintain service for late-night flights provided the airlines plan more trips during the Lunar New Year season.

So far, Vietnam Airlines Group, a consortium of Vietnam Airlines, Pacific Airlines and VASCO, has announced over 2,100 added flights on the Lunar New Year schedule, which brings the total number of seats offered for the peak holiday season to more than 2.4 million.

Meanwhile, Vietjet also prepared 1.5 million seats for flights during the Lunar New Year.

The no-frills airline offered another 1.5 million tickets for low-peak seasons of the year 2021 that cost only VND555,000 ($24) each.

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