By Taylor Rains
Vietnam Airlines Resuming International Flights July 15
As it sits on the brink of bankruptcy, Vietnam Airlines resumes commercial flights to select international destinations this week. Beginning July 15, the carrier will relaunch operations to Asia, Australia and Europe in response to demand from Vietnamese citizens who want to study and work abroad and expert foreigners employed in the country. Routes include service to Sydney and Melbourne in Australia; Frankfurt and London in Europe and Tokyo and Bangkok in Asia.
Vietnam Airlines plans to relaunch flights this week for Vietnamese nationals and expert foreigners who have permission to enter the country. Increased demand combined with loosening border restrictions and the airline’s threat of bankruptcy has motivated VNA to return to international destinations.
Flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Sydney will fly from July 15 to Oc. 30. Outbound flights operate o n Thursdays and Sundays and return on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Services Ho Chi Minh City to Melbourne operate from July 20 to Oct. 30 with outbound flights on Tuesdays and returns on Thursdays
Meanwhile, the Hanoi/Frankfurt connection has three flights scheduled. The complete return trip will fly on July 25, July 28, and Aug. 21. Services between Hanoi to London will fly on Aug. 13 and Sept. 2 and return the following day. Flights between Hanoi and Tokyo will operate from July 17 to Oct. 30 every Wednesday and Saturday.
Services fromHo Chi Minh City to Tokyo fly from Aug 1 to Oct. 30 every Thursday. Meanwhile, flights fromHo Chi Minh City to Bangkok operate from Aug 1 to Oct. 30 every Wednesday.
Only five flights total will operate to Frankfurt and London, likely to get citizens back to work and school abroad. However, if leisure demand to these cities and others in Europe increases, Vietnam Airlines will probably add more dates or set up seasonal routes.
The carrier will use its modern wide-body Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 aircraft for its international passenger flights. The aircraft can carry a large capacity of passengers and cargo, which will help the company increase revenue and optimize resources.
When the pandemic hit, Vietnam Airlines started its first-ever cargo-only flights to transport COVID-related medical supplies and personal protective equipment to several Asian countries. This bolstered the carrier’s cargo operations, which it has relied on since March 2020 to stay afloat. Now, with commercial flights back in service, the company will need to strategically balance passenger revenue and cargo revenue to generate a profit.
While the pandemic has only taken 123 lives in Vietnam, Vietnam Airlines was still forced to suspend international operations in response to strict border closures. As a result, the airline’s flight schedule dropped by nearly 50% in 2020. Last year, the government sent a lifeline of VND12 trillion dong ($519 million) to keep the cash-strapped airline profitable, but it is still operating at a loss, primarily due to a devastating third wave of Covid-19. In the first half of 2021 alone, the carrier lost VND10 trillion ($435 million), and debts surmount to VND6.24 trillion ($272 million). In a report on Vietnam’s business development, the country’s Ministry of Planning and Investment warned that the airline is facing bankruptcy, explaining the situation as “extremely dire.”
As a result of its debts, the carrier is facing lawsuits, and banks are refusing the extend its credit, painting a grim picture for the future of Vietnam Airlines. The decision to restart international flights was likely motivated by the threat of collapse combined with increased demand and loosened border restrictions. Not to mention the widespread Covid vaccinations in Europe and Australia have opened more tourism opportunities. Hopefully this boost in international operations will put Vietnam Airlines on a track to recovery.