Vietnam, Philippines hike bilateral air capacity

AIR passenger capacity between Vietnam and the Philippines is set to grow exponentially following the signing of bilateral and pocket open skies agreements, the latter allowing unlimited traffic rights to foreign airlines into all Philippine airports except Manila.

According to the Philippines’ Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), the deals afford Vietnamese airlines an additional 6,600-seat allocation per week on routes from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to Manila and Cebu. A maximum of 2,650 seats per week will be added on flights from Ho Chi Minh to Manila and Cebu.

So far, no Vietnamese airlines have signalled their intention to take on the extra capacity, although they are expected to apply to boost daily flight frequencies before long.

Meanwhile, Elben Moro, chief of the Hearing Examiners’ division at the CAB, confirmed that Philippine-based carriers such as AirAsia Philippines, Airphil Express and SEAir had applied for seat allocations into Vietnam.

AirAsia is asking for 1,260 seats per day for both the Clark-Ho Chi Minh City and Clark-Hanoi routes, Airphil Express is asking for a daily 1,260-seat allocation between Cebu/Manila and Ho Chi Minh City, while SEAir is requesting twice-daily flights from Clark to Hanoi for 2,520 pax.

Rina Calma Nakayama, assistant managing director at Philippines’ Stars Travel, handles FITs and expat corporate clients heading to industrial sites in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Haiphong. “Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong are saturated, so the next destination for our clients which does not need a visa is Vietnam,” she said. “A lot more curious Filipino travellers are headed there.”

Fe Abling Yu, general manager, Arfel Travel & Tours, said her agency gets good business from Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Siem Reap, flying to Bangkok and then Manila. “I have inquiries from my operator in (Saigon) about the opportunities of sending tourists to Manila,” she said.

Yu added: “When it comes to Vietnam, we have similar sights, inexpensive shopping attractions – so we have to package our tours carefully for Vietnam tourists.”

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