Empty flights: Airlines prioritize customer needs during Tet, regardless of losses.

No airline wants to fly empty. However, with the philosophy of ensuring everyone can be reunited with their families during the Tet holiday, airlines have been willing to take a loss on one-way empty flights...

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According to statistics, from February 1st to February 4th, there have been over 310 empty flights from Northern airports to Tan Son Nhat Airport (Ho Chi Minh City). On February 3rd alone, the number of empty flights reached 104. This number is forecasted to continue to increase in the coming days.

These figures may not catch the passengers’ attention, but they carry a lot of meaning in the operation and service of airlines.

Tet holiday is a time when passenger travel increases significantly, and airlines have to add more flights to meet the demand of passengers. However, the characteristic of the days before Tet is that the majority of passengers fly from Ho Chi Minh City to the Central and Northern provinces to go home for Tet. Meanwhile, in the opposite direction, there are very few passengers flying from the Northern provinces to Ho Chi Minh City, leading to many empty flights from Hanoi and Northern airports to Ho Chi Minh City.

The large number of passengers from the Southern provinces going home for Tet causes airlines to operate empty flights from Ho Chi Minh City, without calculating the losses – photo: C.L.

This situation will be repeated on the Ho Chi Minh City – Hanoi route after Tet. At that time, the number of people returning to the Southern provinces to work increases significantly, forcing airlines to operate many empty flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi and other Northern airports. Last year, after the Lunar New Year holiday, from January 26th to January 30th (from the 5th to the 9th day of Tet), there were 399 empty flights departing from Tan Son Nhat Airport to Northern airports.

Information in an article on Forbes shows that if a narrow-body aircraft operates an empty flight on a long-haul route of 1,000 miles (about 1,600km), the airline will incur about 30,000 USD in costs. This is a direct loss from fuel, maintenance, takeoff and landing fees, and salaries, not to mention some other costs that airlines have to face. From that figure, it is easy to see the significant costs that Vietnamese airlines incur when operating an empty flight with a flight distance of about 1,200km between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The large number of passengers from the Southern provinces going home for Tet causes airlines to operate empty flights from Ho Chi Minh City, without calculating the losses – photo: C.L.

According to calculations, fuel costs account for about 39.5% of the total costs of airlines. This Tet period is a time when aviation fuel prices increase due to the ongoing conflicts in some regions around the world and the increased demand for fuel during the harsh winter season in many countries. Therefore, empty flights have a significant impact on the revenue of airlines. The more empty flights, the more serious the impact on revenue.

But with the responsibility to serve passengers, Vietnamese airlines have not taken these losses into account. The goal of airlines, specifically, and the entire aviation industry, in general, is not to let passengers stay in foreign lands during the beginning of spring.

SOURCEvneconomy
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