Vietnam Rediscovered: Vanquishing the Challenges of COVID
SYDNEY -- Vietnam Airlines has increased its flight frequencies out of Sydney and Melbourne to meet increasing post-COVID travel demand.
Improved connections for onwards journeys from Vietnam to Europe will also be offered as the airline increases frequencies into Europe for the Northern summer.
From July, the Vietnamese flag carrier is scheduling seven flights weekly out of Sydney and four from Melbourne.
"We are about to resume for the northern summer five direct weekly services between Sydney and Ho Chi Minh as well as four from Melbourne, in addition to two direct weekly return services between Sydney and Hanoi.
"This reflects our strong commitment to the Australian market," Truong Tran Ngoc Hung, deputy director of marketing and sales for Vietnam Airlines, told ATI.
Hung said VN had also adjusted its schedule to improve connections from Europe into Australia. "We are flying 4 days a week to London, 3 days to Paris and 5 days to Frankfurt," he said.
Addressing agents and industry partners at a Rediscover Vietnam forum in Sydney, he said: "These frequency increases and improved connection times will hopefully encourage you to consider Vietnam Airlines as a partner in getting your clients to Europe.
"Our frequency increases to many locations show a solid market recovery now, and that is in part due to the agents and partners here with us tonight."
Hung told ATI: "Australia has the highest flight frequency of all our international routes."
The airline, he said, had resumed flights to Australia in March, and in June offered seven flights weekly - four out of Sydney and three from Melbourne.
Heavy demand from travellers had prompted the increase in the number of flights.
"There are a couple of reasons for the demand," he said.
"First, there are an estimated 400,000 Vietnamese living in Australia; and secondly, Australians who love overseas travel have started to travel again.
"Post-COVID, the number of Australians travelling overseas has exceeded our expectations."
Hung says connections to Europe have improved with the additional flights. The airline flies currently to Paris, London and Frankfurt, with same-day connections.
He told ATI that Vietnam Airlines had resumed flights on all pre-COVID international routes, and, compared with 2019, now offered increased frequencies to Europe, Japan and Korea. It has also introduced five flights weekly from Vietnam to New Delhi.
Hung described Australia before the COVID-19 pandemic as a market with tremendous potential for Vietnam, enjoying high annual growth rates.
"In 2019, Vietnam welcomed approximately 317,000 visitors from Australia," he said. "Vietnam was becoming more popular each year, and Vietnam Airlines was proud to contribute to that achievement."
Of future expansion plans in Australia, he said: "Before the pandemic, we had plans to go to Brisbane. We do not now expect to start a Brisbane service before 2025."
Of current load factors, Hung said: "Currently our flights are running at more than 70%, but that will rise to 100% during school holidays.
"In some markets, loadings are uneven, full one way, and empty the other way.
"Our experience with our flights to and from Australia is different. They are full both ways.
"One reason is that we are seeing more Vietnamese students coming to Australia to study. There are also Vietnamese visiting relatives and friends in Australia."
He says Australia has developed a reputation in Vietnam as being "one of the best places" to visit.
Vietnam Airlines was also working closely with the Government on programmes to lift the profile of Vietnam as a tourist destination in overseas markets, Hung said.
"One tangible support (from Government) is a cut in VAT from 10% to 8% for businesses in the tourism industry"
From May 15, he said, the Vietnamese government had removed all travel COVID-related restrictions.
"Now, thanks to the enhancement of vaccination, Vietnam has effectively controlled the pandemic," he said. "Vietnam officially reopened for international visitors on March 15, and on April 27 suspended medical declaration requirements for all international arrivals."
The Rediscover Vietnam event was jointly sponsored by Vietnam Airlines and the Thien Minh Group (TMG), which over 28 years has positioned as a leading brand in tourism services and hotel experiences in Asia. Other sponsors were Vinpearl, which offers an expansive network of luxury hotels, resorts ,spas and conference centres, as well as upscale dining venues and international-standard golf courses across Vietnam; and Caravelle, which operates the five-star Caravelle Hotel, Saigon.
Speaking at the event, Vietnam's Ambassador to Australia, Nguyen Huu Tung, said COVID-19 had greatly affected the travel and aviation industry over the past two years.
"Now is an opportunity to work with you all to move forward and regain strength in our industry," he said. "Vietnam Airlines wants to be your partner to grow and move forward."