Airfares for Tết (Lunar New Year) on online booking websites for all domestic flights currently are listed at high prices, causing people, especially migrant workers, to worry about choosing a means of transport to return home.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Việt Nam (CAAV), at the peak period of Lunar New Year from January 25 to February 24, 2024, domestic airlines are expected to provide nearly 6.5 million seats on domestic routes, an increase of 4 per cent compared to last year.

On the international flight network, airlines are expected to provide 2.1 million tickets, increasing by 36.8 per cent.

However, high online ticket prices make people to carefully consider, and moreover, they are not easy to buy.

This year, Vietnam Airlines opens Tết flight ticket sales quite early, from mid-September.

The airline opens sales of three million tickets for flight dates from January 25 to February 24, including two million domestic tickets (equivalent to 10,300 flights).

Similarly, Vietjet also provides about 2.5 million domestic flight seats, Bamboo Airways and Vietravel Airlines offer from 700,000 to one million seats across the entire flight network.

Although flight tickets for Tết have not been on sale long, many routes have sold out of economy class tickets.

Therefore, to get early tickets, many people have to choose business class, with prices 3-4 times higher than economy class prices, or accept multi-stop flights.

Nguyễn Thị Thanh, from central Hà Tĩnh Province and her husband, Nguyễn Văn Đức, from Nghệ An, workers at Dĩ An Industrial Park in southern Bình Dương Province, said that they planned to return home to celebrate Tết, so since the summer they had prepared budget to buy plane tickets, but after surveying the air ticket prices online, the couple had to consider cancelling their plans.

“I found on online flight booking websites, airfares from HCM City to Nghệ An range from more than VNĐ5.5 to 10 million (US$226-411) per round-trip ticket,” Thanh said.

“For my family of three people, I have to pay at least about VNĐ20 million ($822), not including the travel costs from Bình Dương Province to HCM City’s Tân Sơn Nhất Airport, then from Nghệ An Province’s Vinh Airport to my home in Quỳnh Lưu District,” she said.

On online airline ticket booking sites of Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet and Bamboo Airways, air ticket prices on many routes still increase every day depending on the airline, flight time and date.

For example, the HCM City-Hà Nội round-trip ticket including taxes and fees departing on February 9 (the last day of lunar December month) and returning on February 16 (the 7th day of Lunar New Year) by Vietjet costs VNĐ5,538,000 tickets ($227), by Vietnam Airlines VNĐ5,987,000 ($246), by Bamboo Airways VNĐ7,203,000 ($300), and by Vietravel Airlines VNĐ6,130,640 ($251).

Nguyễn Thanh Hồng, an air ticket agent in Hà Nội, said that this year, flight prices for Tết holiday are about 15 per cent higher than the same period last year.

But currently, the number of tickets sold is very low, about 40 per cent compared to the same time last year. It is because of economic difficulties, a high rate of job loss and income declines, said Hồng.

Đinh Việt Thắng, the CAAV director, said that ticket prices offered by airlines depend on the policies of each time and the law of supply and demand of the market.

Airline ticket prices are still within the regulated ceiling price range, said Thắng.

When people's travel demand increases, airlines will certainly increase flights to maximise the number of passengers, he said.

The agency will monitor and require airlines to provide customer booking data. When the number of passengers reaches 70 per cent, the agency requires companies to research and increase flights to exploit and serve the travel needs of people, he said.

Railway, road transport ready to share the market

The railway and road transport industries are ready with plans to support passengers in the context of high air ticket prices.

According to Việt Nam Railway Corporation (VNR), to attract train passengers, the railway will promote short-distance passenger round-trip trains such as Hà Nội to the cities of Thanh Hoá, Vinh, Đồng Hới, Huế and Đà Nẵng and, HCM City to Nha Trang Phan Thiết and Đà Nẵng cities.

Notably, although the quality and services have been improved, train ticket prices have not increased much, just from 5 – 20 per cent compared to off-peak.

During Tết alone, VNR will provide about 390 trips with more than 200,000 seats including trains from HCM City to Hà Nội 10 days before Tết and Hà Nội to HCM City 15 days after Tết.

The highest ticket price for the HCM City – Hà Nội route is about VNĐ2,950,000 ($121) per ticket and the lowest is VNĐ1,950,000 ($80).

For Tết service, the railway still applies ticket price reduction policies depending on train travel date, departure station, seat type, and group passengers.

During off-peak times from Hà Nội to HCM City before Tết, and from HCM City to Hà Nội after Tết, VNR applies a promotion of 5 – 30 per cent off ticket prices for passengers who buy tickets early.

The relatively stable and flexible ticket prices have attracted many people to buy Tết train tickets.

Officially opened for sale on October 20, now after nearly a month, the railway has successfully sold about 74,000 tickets, many peak routes are almost full.

Similarly, inter-provincial passenger transport by road is also ready for the peak season.

Up to this point, many companies have plans to increase vehicles to meet people's travel needs.

Vân Anh transport company running the Hà Nội - Thanh Hoá route said that on its online ticket booking app and website, it has begun to receive passenger bookings, with ticket prices expected to not increase at VNĐ250,000 ($1.1) per ticket.

In HCM City, bus companies are not yet selling Tết tickets, only Phương Trang Coach Company opened for booking last week.

Currently, the bus ticket price of Phương Trang Company for the route of HCM City-Đà Nẵng is announced to be VNĐ400,000 ($16.4) per ticket. During Tết holiday, bus companies plan to increase ticket prices by 40 – 60 per cent, so the highest bus ticket for this route during the Tết peak period is VNĐ640,000 ($26.3) per sleeper ticket.

Meanwhile, many transportation companies in Đà Nẵng said that it is still quite early to develop concrete plans for Tết, but the bus companies all affirmed that they are ready with service plans to share the market with airlines and railways. VNS

Increase night flights, reduce delays and cancellations during Tết

Minister of Transport Nguyễn Văn Thắng has just issued a work plan to well serve the people's travel needs, ensuring traffic order and safety during the New Year, Lunar New Year and festival season in 2024.

Accordingly, the Việt Nam Road Administration is responsible for proactively organising inspections of road transport services during Tết,  guide and urge local departments of Transport to direct transport businesses and bus stations to operate publicly and transparently on transport fares, types of prices and service fees at bus stations, as well as strictly inspect safety conditions of the vehicle and drivers before departing, and post the vehicle's license plates and hotlines of authorities for passengers.

BOT investors are asked to develop plans to ensure security and order, and traffic flow at toll stations when traffic volume increases suddenly, limiting congestion.

In case of traffic jams, the barriers must be opened to clear the back-up.

Civil Aviation Authority of Việt Nam (CAAV) is requested to strengthen security control and flight safety, increase human resources and equipment for security screening to ensure security, safety and best serve travel needs during peak days before, during and after Tết.

Airlines have to develop plans to increase flight service on peak days, arrange night flights to meet passenger travel needs on a basis consistent with infrastructure and ensure flight safety, well manage flight schedules to minimise flight delays and cancellations during the holiday.

Provincial Departments of Transport need to co-ordinate with provincial Departments of Finance and police to establish inspection teams to monitor transport services, regulation compliance on fares, increase public buses to connect with other types of transportation and ease crowding at airports and train and bus stations, and arrange special buses to support workers and students returning home for Tết. VNS