The aviation sector is an integral part of Vietnam's transportation industry and is among the fastest-growing ones in the world. This growth has come from the rising tourism sector, the introduction of various low-cost airlines, and the country's robust economic development. While the Vietnamese aviation market, like the global market, has been struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a strong recovery has been observed in the first half of 2022, especially in domestic flights.
Passenger airlines in Vietnam
In the 1990s, air travel was a luxury that not many Vietnamese people could afford, and only a few routes, be it international or domestic, were available. Vietnam Airlines, the national flag carrier, was the first and, for a time, the only domestic airline in the country. This means of transportation has become much more common and affordable, thanks to the emergence of low-cost carriers and the inclusion of an increasing number of foreign airlines' offerings. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of air passengers in Vietnam had been increasing each year, peaking at almost 57 million in 2019.
Despite the competition from a growing number of airlines, state-owned Vietnam Airlines still held the largest aviation market share. However, its position is being challenged by low-cost airlines from the private sector. The most formidable opponent is Vietjet Air, whose market share was only a few percent less than that of Vietnam Airlines in 2022. At the same time, many of these airlines even surpassed Vietnam Airlines in terms of punctuality, such as in the case of Vietnam's aviation newbie Bamboo Airways.
Post COVID-19 challenges faced by the Vietnamese aviation sector
The COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions have significantly disrupted the growth track of Vietnam's aviation sector. Since 2020, Vietnamese airlines have reported a heavy revenue decline and even posted losses. As of March 2022, Vietnam removed most of its travel restrictions on domestic and international tourists, which has boosted the use of air transportation. However, it will still take some time until airlines can recover from the financial impacts of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the sector has been dealing with several infrastructure issues. Increasing airport capacity is the most pressing task for the aviation industry. Recovery comes with a growing volume of passengers, which has recently caused overloading in major airports during travel peaks in 2022. While multiple expansions and new airport construction projects are already in the pipeline, they need to speed up to catch up with the demand to accommodate passengers. The government has been working on a new law allowing private businesses to invest in the infrastructure of airports, hoping to shorten the timeline of these projects.
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