Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have just requested the local transport department to consider a seaplane operator’s proposal to launch aerial tours above the city.
The municipal People’s Committee has recently tasked the Department of Transport and other competent agencies with taking into careful consideration a proposition which was put forward by Hai Au Aviation, a private firm, regarding such tours.
The company earlier sought permission to launch a new tour that would allow tourists to explore the city from the sky.
The expected itinerary of the seaplane tours is Tan Son Nhat International Airport-Thanh Da Peninsula-the downtown area-Phu My Bridge-Can Gio District.
The Thanh Da Peninsula is situated in Binh Thanh District, while the Phu My Bridge spans over the Saigon River sections in District 2 and District 7.
Luong Hoai Nam, CEO of Hai Au Aviation, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that his company will work to implement this project in the next six months if the city grants it a permit.
“During one of my flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Mui Ne [a tourist resort in the south-central province of Binh Thuan], I was awed by the city’s stunning landscape as seen from above,” he explained.
He then came up with the idea of offering a tour to let tourists enjoy the alluring beauty and rich biological diversity of the Can Gio Tourism Complex, which nestles in the outlying district of Can Gio, as well as the historical value and grandeur of many other architectural icons in the city.
A Hai Au Aviation seaplane operates in UNESCO-recognized Ha Long Bay, located in the northern province of Quang Ninh. Photo: Hai Au Aviation
Nam also detailed the routes expected to be taken during such tours.
Seaplanes would depart from Tan Son Nhat and be destined for the Thanh Da Peninsula.
The aircraft would then fly along the Saigon River toward the downtown area and the Phu My Bridge, so that riders could take a look at the architectural icons and places of interest below.
The planes would then be maneuvered toward the northern side of District 2, District 9, and Thu Thiem Peninsula.
After work on the Thu Thiem new residential area is complete, the seaplane routes would be adjusted, Nam noted.
Passengers would then be taken to the Can Gio mangrove forests and other scenic spots before landing on a canal inside the Can Gio Tourism Complex.
Tourists would be allowed some hours to explore the complex, which boasts a forested area of around 75,740 hectares, over 150 botanical species, and many rare animals.
The planes, which would cruise at a height of 500-700 meters over the inner city and 150-300 meters above the Can Gio mangrove forests, would then get back to Tan Son Nhat on the same route.
“If our proposal to operate such tours is approved by the People’s Committee, we will go on to seek permission from the Ministries of Transport and Defense,” Nam added.
One flight is expected to be offered every day in the initial phase.
Tickets would cost an estimated VND12 million (US$559) apiece, and half the price for one-way flights.
The tours are aimed at affluent tourists from Europe, Australia, the U.S., Japan, and South Korea, Nam added.
Domestic tourists are expected to make up some 20 percent of the tour buyers.
According to Nam, his company’s seaplanes are state-of-the-art U.S.-built Cessna Grand Caravan EX.
With a 15.9-meter wingspan, the planes are capable of carrying 12 passengers at a time and reach the velocity of roughly 260 kilometers per hour.
Last year Hai Au Aviation inaugurated its seaplane service on the Hanoi – Ha Long route in the north and Ho Chi Minh City – Phan Thiet route in the south.
Tourists depart from Hanoi to have an aerial view of the iconic Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Quang Ninh Province, and from Ho Chi Minh City to visit the famed resort city of Phan Thiet in Binh Thuan, home to the well-known Mui Ne beach.
Nam added his company is completing the paperwork and improving its facility to launch seaplane tours from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho City and An Giang Province in the Mekong Delta.
“We’re also working to expand our services in the northern and central regions, and are studying the feasibility of the sightseeing tours which would allow tourists to visit Ho Chi Minh City, its neighbors Dong Nai and Binh Duong Provinces, and other Mekong Delta locales,” he revealed.