Though there’s around one month left until Tet, air tickets to many destinations for Vietnam’s biggest holiday are nearly sold out, with prices for remaining seats double the norm.
After knowing the government’s official announcement about the upcoming Tet holiday break, Minh Hanh, who lives in HCMC, started searching for air tickets to Hanoi. She was shocked by the skyrocketing airfares.
Her family of three plans to fly to Hanoi on January 19 and to return to HCMC six days later. The cost for the three round-trip air tickets could be as high as VND20 million ($840) if she booked the flight on Vietnam Airlines, more than twice the normal prices.
Seeing the airfare so high, she decided to fly to Hai Phong first and then take a car to Hanoi. But the air fare for HCMC-Hai Phong was not as cheap as she thought.
“I regret not buying air tickets earlier because I thought as in previous years there would still be many seats available close to Tet,” Hanh said, adding that she was so stressed trying to book air tickets for the holiday.
The Year of the Cat begins on January 22 and many Vietnamese normally return to their hometowns to celebrate Tet a week before the start of the holiday, which will last a week from January 19-26.
On the Vietnam Airlines’ website, the lowest price for one-way tickets from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi and Hai Phong during the period between January 16-19 is VND3.5 million per person.
The routes from HCMC to Thanh Hoa and Vinh in north central Vietnam only have business class seats left.
Most the tickets for January 18-19 are already sold out.
For routes from HCMC to Thanh Hoa and Vinh, low cost airline Vietjet operates nine daily flights, but half of the seats on these routes are already sold out. The cheapest tickets for the late-night flights which are still available sell at VND3.5 million.
During the upcoming holiday break, Vietnamese carriers have added over 8,000 flights, up 32% over pre-holiday times.
In Vietnam, Tet often sees millions of migrant workers from major cities return to their homes and holiday-goers flock to tourist hotspots.
A spokesman for national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines said travel demand has shot up post pandemic, leading to a sharp scarcity of air tickets during Tet.
During last year’s Tet holiday, the pandemic situation had just been brought under control and domestic travel restrictions were not completely lifted yet, prompting people to cancel their travel plans.
“This year, airlines are under pressure from gasoline prices and rising U.S. dollar exchange rates, so ensuring business efficiency for aviation businesses is a difficult problem,” said the spokesman.
Tan Son Nhat Airport, Vietnam’s largest airport, has added 20 daily domestic flights to and from Ho Chi Minh City from January 6 to February 5 to meet spiking Lunar New Year demand.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has ordered airlines to rearrange several flight schedules during peak hours to avoid air congestion.
In 2019, before Covid struck, Vietnam’s aviation industry was experiencing annual double-digit growth year-on-year to 116 million passengers.
This year CAAV expects to serve 100 million air passengers.
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