Travel firms, airlines feel the pinch of airport closure

Published: 06/05/2011 05:00



The temporary shutdown of Phu Bai International Airport in Thua Thien-Hue city Province later this month is making major inroads into revenue and plans of tour operators and airlines, as they are not in a well-prepared position to deal with the already-decided closure.

Airline and travel representatives complained to the Daily that the one-month closure starting from May 13 had forced them to change their business and tour plans in accordance with a decision by the Minister of Transport last month.

Vietnam’s low-cost carrier Jetstar Pacific has to suspend its two daily services between HCMC and the former imperial capital of Hue more than a week before Phu Bai Airport is closed to have its only 2,700-meter-long runway repaired as stated by Decision 710/QD-BGTVT signed by minister Ho Nghia Dung on April 14.

Jetstar Pacific attributed the unexpected service suspension to Hue to a small number of seats already booked for its flights from May 5 and the fact that its agents stopped receiving bookings since Middle Airports Corporation previously informed them of a plan to upgrade the runway from May 5 to June 5.

The corporation told Jetstar Pacific and Vietnam Airlines about the upgrade plan in February ahead of approval from the aviation authority, the Ministry of Transport and the Prime Minister as required as Phu Bai is an international airport. Less than two months later, the transport minister signed the decision to officiate the runway upgrade.

As soon as the decision came out, Vietnam Airlines announced it would resume flights from HCMC and Hanoi to Phu Bai Airport until May 12, one day ahead of the closure, to serve passengers in need of air travel to and from Hue.

Jetstar Pacific did not have enough time to perform service to the central city as it got the decision regarding the exact period of temporary closure for Phu Bai days after it was issued. That is why the carrier cannot fly to the airport from May 5 to 12 as Vietnam Airlines does.

In the same boat are the travel companies that had received bookings and designed tours for their guests, particularly foreign tourists before they knew about the decision. Many tour operators complained that they were informed of the closure by ticketing offices and media rather than authorities and the corporation.

Travel companies said the one-month shutdown should have been publicized at least six months a head of the upgrade so that they would have time to prepare and then avoid unnecessary expenses.

Tour operators said they now had to re-schedule air-tickets for their guests to disembark and board at Danang Airport instead of Phu Bai and to pay an additional amount of VND200,000 (around US$9.7) for transporting every guest of the tours to Danang some 100 kilometers away.

Ung Phuong Dung, director of Indochina Services Vietnam, said tour operators would have to bear the additional cost in addition to a host of complaints for the itinerary change and more time of traveling by road.

Nguyen Minh Quyen, deputy director of Ben Thanh Tourist Travel Services Center, said it was fortunate for the company as it had reserved seats on the flights for their guests to Danang Airport since it heard about the upgrade plan. However, not many tour operators are as lucky as Ben Thanh Tourist.

An official of the Thua Thien-Hue tourism body told the Daily on the phone on Wednesday that this agency had known about the closure of Phu Bai Airport not long before so it had not been able to map out an appropriate plan to help companies in the hospitality industry.

The official said a number of travel firms and hoteliers in the central province were discussing a plan to hire buses to transport their guests between Danang and Hue to cut costs.

Vietnam Airlines operates 10 daily flights between HCMC and Danang and eight daily flights from Hanoi while Jetstar Pacific has four daily flights from HCMC to Danang and two from Hanoi. These carriers have not announced any detail plans for additional services to Danang when Phu Bai is temporarily closed.

Source: SGT

Provide by Vietnam Travel

Travel firms, airlines feel the pinch of airport closure - Travel - News |  vietnam travel company

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