VOV.VN - Vietnamese airlines are planning to resume international routes to meet increasing travel demand amid the international aviation market’s gradual recovery, with the industry forecast to recover strongly by the end of the year.
The local aviation industry is expected to fully recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by the end of the year by serving 80 million passengers and handling 1.44 million tonnes of cargo, up 1% and 14.8% from the pre-pandemic period in 2019, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).
To meet this increased travel demand, the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines is scheduled to resume five flight routes between Vietnam and China in March and April 2023, thereby restoring a total of nine out of 10 routes to the northern neighbour compared to pre-pandemic period.
With the optimistic scenario that China continues to ease travel restrictions, the carrier anticipates that the number of passengers travelling back and forth between Vietnam and China this year will reach about 80% of the 2019 figure.
In addition, Vietnam Airlines has also re-started routes between Hanoi and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), with a frequency of four flights per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
Elsewhere, the airline is currently operating the Ho Chi Minh City - Kuala Lumpur route with a frequency of 11 flights per week.
So far, the national flag carrier has restored the majority of its international destinations, duly bringing the total number of flights on the airline's international network to more than 600 flights per week, equivalent to 70% of the pre-pandemic period.
Meanwhile, low-cost carrier VietJet Air has developed a wide-body fleet with three Airbus A330s, opening more than 20 new routes, mainly to the Indian market.
This year national airlines plan to expand international routes to Astana and Almaty in Kazakhstan, as well as to Melbourne and Sydney in Australia.
The first direct flights connecting Ho Chi Minh City to Melbourne (Australia) will operate from April 8, with a frequency of six flights per week.
Flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Melbourne on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays will depart at 10:55 a.m. and land at 10:35 p.m. (local time). Return flights from Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays will take off at 00:30 a.m. and land at 6:30 a.m. (local time).
VietJet Air earlier reopened a direct route connecting Ho Chi Minh City with Hong Kong (China), from February 10, with two return flights every Monday and Friday following a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bamboo Airways and Pacific Airlines also revealed plans to exploit international routes, with a focus on direct intercontinental flights to Australia and the UK.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), the international aviation market is recovering quickly, helping Vietnamese airlines offset damage caused during the previous downturn endured by the industry.
However, there are plenty of challenges in the year ahead, such as limitations placed on airport infrastructure, fuel price fluctuations, and a shortage of human resources in the aviation industry. Yet, the aviation industry is expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels, said the CAAV.