- Market boom spurs Vietnamese airline carriers to expand fleets at speed
- Vietnam's budget airlines soar past passenger trains
About 4.1 million passengers are estimated to fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi this year, putting the route among the world's most busiest, according to the U.K.-based air travel company OAG.
Latest data from the company showed that the northbound route came in at the seventh place in the list of global busiest air routes, up five spots from a year ago.
The route accounts for about 35 percent of the country’s air traffic, with up to 700 daily flights carrying passengers.
Huge numbers of passengers traveling between the two largest cities have also strained Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City.
Lai Xuan Thanh, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam, said that there were times dozens of flights had to fly around, waiting for 15-60 minutes before they could land.
The airport is expected to handle 31 million passengers this year, far beyond its maximum capacity of 25 million.
Thanh said that the situation is likely to worsen in the next four years as domestic carriers plan to expand to meet the local travel boom.
National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, low-cost Jetstar Pacific and VietJet Air, and newly-founded Vietstar had raised the total number of airplanes to 141 by the end of the third quarter, up 50 percent against five years ago.
They are planning to expand their fleets to a combined 263 aircraft by 2020. Vietstar has not been licensed to fly.
To handle the problem of overcrowded airports, authorities are considering increasing the number of night flights and putting a cap on the number of new planes local airlines can buy.
Vietnam’s aviation market is growing at the third fastest pace in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the aviation administration.
It is estimated that the number of passengers, including international ones, in 2016 will jump by 29 percent to hit about 52.2 million.
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