Airlines sell tickets cautiously, passengers buy hesitantly

VietNamNet Bridge – Air carriers have begun selling air tickets for Tet flights, a bit later than usual. Meanwhile, passengers still keep listening to the news, not hurrying to book tickets right now.

The significant fall in the number of passengers has forced domestic airlines to be very cautious when drawing up their business plans. All of them launch Tet sale season later than usual, offering air ticket sales in different stages, exploring the situation while selling.

NHP, an office worker in HCM City, began searching for the information about air ticket sales for Tet flights in August. Since there were not many choices, P had to book business-class return tickets to Hanoi with the state owned Vietnam Airlines at the sky high airfare of over 5 million dong per person, totaling 20 million dong.

By that time, Vietnam Airlines had not launched the Tet sale season yet.

One month later, P successfully booked tickets with a budget airline at 2.4 million dong per person only. Finally, she decided to cancel the flights with Vietnam Airlines, accepting the fine of 1.2 million dong. However, the decision to fly with the budget airline would help her save nearly 10 million dong.

Air Mekong was the first airline that launched Tet sale season. Its first sale campaign, lasting 20 days, began on September 20. Twenty days later, the two budget airlines VietJet Air (VJA) and Jetstar Pacific Airlines (JPA) also launched the Tet sale season.

JPA announced the sale of 110,000 tickets for Tet flights since October 11. It also launched the sale of 24,000 seats for the HCM City – Hanoi flights to take off within 15 days before Tet and the Hanoi – HCM City flights within 15 days after Tet.

It is expected that the travel demand would be 10 percent higher for the flights between Hanoi and HCM City on Tet days in comparison with the same period of the last year, and 13 percent higher on the HCM City – Da Nang route.

In the latest statement, Vietnam Airlines said it would run two Tet sale campaigns. In the first one, commencing from November 1, it would provide 75 percent of the total seats for the peak season, while in the second one, slated for mid December 2012, it would provide the remaining 25 percent.

The national air flag carrier has also informed that from January 25 to March 2, 2013, it would provide 1000 more flights, or 174,500 seats on the 10 air routes with high travel demand. Of these, 82,600 seats would be reserved for the HCM City – Hanoi flights.

It’s still unclear about the airfares. However, the passengers who want to fly on the days between February 5 and February 15, or the peak days, would have to bear high airfares.

As for budget airlines like JPA or VJA, the average level is 2.6 million dong for a seat on HCM City – Hanoi flights, not including VAT and airport fee.

Airlines keep cautious with their Tet sale campaigns, because they need to consider the expected profits thoroughly in Tet conditions. In general, the flights from HCM City to Hanoi are always overloaded on Tet days with the higher number of people flying to the north to celebrate Tet holiday with their families, while there are few passengers on the Hanoi – HCM City flights.

The sharp fall of the domestic aviation market in the first seven months of the year has also forced airlines to think carefully when setting up their business plan. Vietnam Airlines, the “eldest brother”, has reported the decrease of 7.5 percent of the domestic carriage output.

Ngoc Ha