Vietnam Airlines Expands To Popular Southeast Asian Leisure Destinations

Vietnam Airlines has announced two new routes as part of an expansion within Southeast Asia. The Vietnamese flag carrier will operate new routes from Ho Chi Minh City to Phuket, Thailand and Bali, Indonesia beginning at the end of October.

A Vietnam Airlines Jet
Vietnam Airlines has announced new routes within Southeast Asia. Photo: USAFE AFAFRICA via Flickr

Vietnam Airlines recently announced a fresh selection of routes that will connect Ho Chi Minh City with the popular tourist destinations of Phuket and Bali. Commencing 27 October, Vietnam Airlines will operate five flights to Denpasar Airport, Bali every week.

The initial Ho Chi Minh City-Denpasar schedule will see flights every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Flights out of Ho Chi Minh City will leave at 11:10am and flights from Bali will leave at 4:50pm.

The Ho Chi Minh City-Phuket service will be less regular, only operating three times per week, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. On this route, flights from Ho Chi Minh City will depart at 3:50pm, whilst flights out of Phuket will leave at 6:40pm.

According to reports by Vietnam Plus, this schedule will run until late March 2020, after which flights will operate seven times per week. The airline will also be resuming its flights from Da Nang, Vietnam to Bangkok, Thailand.

Tourism in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is one of the most popular regions for travelers and backpackers from around the world. Vietnam is a top destination in Southeast Asia, welcoming 15.4 million tourists in 2018.

A Vietnam Airlines Airbus A330
Vietnam is a growing source of tourists. Photo: Masakatsu Ukon via Flickr

But it sits behind both Indonesia and Thailand, which welcomed 15.8 million and a whopping 38.3 million tourists respectively. Travelers from outside southeast Asia will often hop between the region’s popular tourist countries and destinations during one trip.

But tourism from elsewhere is not the only market that shows potential for airlines within Southeast Asia.

Vietnam Airlines hoping to capitalize on domestic demand

Vietnam itself is one of the up and coming countries in the region, with a growing number of citizens looking to travel abroad. Mastercard has predicted that by 2021, there will be 7.5 Vietnamese traveling outside the country annually.

With a number of popular tourist destinations on their doorstep, as well as visa-free travel to ASEAN member nations for 30 days, Vietnamese travelers are a growing economic force. There is clearly a lot of potential for airlines offering convenient flights between Southeast Asian countries, which seems to be the motivation behind Vietnam Airlines’ new routes.

A VietJet Air jet
VietJet Air is Vietnam Airlines’ main domestic competitor. Photo: Blue Stahli Luân via Flickr

The carrier already operates two routes to Thailand and one to Indonesia, so it must be confident in the demand for more.

Vietnam Airlines’ plans further afield

Vietnam Airlines also recently announced plans to fly to the United States. It has already received a license to begin operating direct flights from Vietnam to the US. While there is likely less demand and more risk involved in launching a Vietnam-US route, it is clearly a signal of intent for Vietnam’s flag bearer.

Vietnam Airlines is already competing domestically with VietJet Air, as well as many big players within the region. If it wants to set itself apart from the rest, then bold decisions are probably the right way to go.