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Business News/ News / India, Vietnam in talks to increase bilateral flights
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India, Vietnam in talks to increase bilateral flights

The current bilateral air service agreement between India and Vietnam permit 28 weekly departures from metro cities.

Full-service carrier Vietnam Airlines launched direct flights between the two countries in June 2022 with non-stop flights between New Delhi and Ho Chi Minh City. Premium
Full-service carrier Vietnam Airlines launched direct flights between the two countries in June 2022 with non-stop flights between New Delhi and Ho Chi Minh City.

As Vietnam gains popularity among Indian travellers, the governments of India and Vietnam are in active discussions to increase the number of flights under the bilateral air service agreement for the metro cities.

"May be this year or next year, India and Vietnam may increase the bilateral flying rights between the two countries. Both governments are discussing it. The first step is to increase slots and open skies will take time," Nguyen Trung Hieu, general manager, Vietnam Airlines, told Mint.

A bilateral air service agreement mandates a limit on the number of seats or flights that airlines can allocate between two countries. India currently has bilateral air service agreements with 116 countries. 

Under open skies, airlines can deploy any number of flights between the two countries. India shares open skies with countries such as the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand among others.

The current bilateral air service agreement between India and Vietnam permit 28 weekly departures from metro cities. Vietnamese carriers including full-service carrier Vietnam Airlines and low-cost airline VietJet have already exhausted their share by operating 14 weekly departures each.

While the connectivity from metro cities will depend on increase in bilateral flying rights, Vietnam Airlines is studying the pool of non-metro cities with international status such as Pune, Ahmedabad, Amritsar and Lucknow to connect Tier-2 cities in India to Vietnam, an official said.

Direct flight connectivity between India and Vietnam is fairly recent and was initiated by Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo in October 2019 with non-stop flights between Hanoi and Kolkata. Earlier, erstwhile Jet Airways had also started flights to Vietnam only to discontinue the service months later. 

IndiGo is currently the sole Indian carrier operating between India and Vietnam. Full-service carrier Vistara has also plans to operate daily flights to Hanoi from Mumbai. IndiGo now operates 14 weekly flights between India and Vietnam.

Full-service carrier Vietnam Airlines launched direct flights between the two countries in June 2022 with non-stop flights between New Delhi and Ho Chi Minh City. 

"Now we have three airlines between Vietnam and India. India is a huge market and demand is enough for all airlines. We are looking at other cities in Vietnam as well such as Da Nang, which is a vibrant city and many tourists from India want to see," Hieu said.

The state carrier of Vietnam will also deploy brand new Airbus A350 aircraft on flights from Delhi with effect from 15 May. These will have a two-class cabin configuration with 276 economy seats and 29 full-flat beds in business class.

"India is the most important market for our airline. We are investing our resources into Indian market and offer a range of options for connectivity in domestic and beyond to South Asia, Europe, US, South Korea," Hieu said.

As per data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the international air traffic to and from India increased by over 150% on year in the December quarter to 186,812 passengers. Online travel portals have also seen a rise in interest among travellers from India to Vietnam as a leisure destination. 

"We are seeing very encouraging numbers for Vietnam on our platform. In general, Vietnam has emerged as a popular destination in the last 9-12 months. It is competing with some of the other South East Asian destinations. When you look at travel options to Thailand, you start looking at Vietnam as a plausible option as well because connectivity has really improved and people are finding that it is a bit less crowded and less explored," Aditya Agarwal, chief financial officer of Cleartrip said.

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Published: 19 Mar 2024, 09:13 PM IST
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