Why are there significantly more flight delays and cancellations during the Lunar New Year holiday?

On February 5 (or 26th of Chạp month), an estimated 132,000 passengers are projected to pass through Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport, marking a record high in the past year.


Among these, there were approximately 65,000 passengers on 320 domestic outbound flights and over 21,400 passengers on 317 domestic inbound flights. This means that at Tan Son Nhat domestic terminal, the number of departing passengers was nearly three times higher than the number of arriving passengers.

While Tan Son Nhat airport experienced record-breaking passenger numbers, bad weather conditions, including fog in the northern provinces, especially at Noi Bai airport, continued to affect operations, resulting in delays.

Tan Son Nhat International Airport is expected to welcome over 132,000 passengers on the 26th day of Lunar New Year

Airlines have reported that not only are airports crowded, but their meeting rooms are also “heated” as they must “strive” to cope and ensure the safety and minimize delays.

Vietravel Airlines stated that during the peak period before Lunar New Year (from the 22nd to the 30th day of Lunar New Year), the high-demand flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, Da Nang, Quy Nhon, and Da Lat had a 100% occupancy rate. For the Ho Chi Minh City – Hanoi route, the airline increased its frequency by adding 3 night flights, with a occupancy rate of over 98% for each flight.

Entering the peak period of the Lunar New Year 2024, Tan Son Nhat airport is expecting an average of 860-900 inbound and outbound flights per day, reaching the highest operational density. To minimize delays and cancellations and ensure passengers’ travel schedules, Tan Son Nhat airport and airlines have cooperated closely to achieve the best operational efficiency.

From early morning on the 5th of February, the airport was crowded with passengers preparing to return to their hometown for Lunar New Year

To cope with delays during this peak period, Vietravel Airlines stated that the airline proactively arranged flight schedules that matched the infrastructure capacity, increased turnaround time between flights, and allocated sufficient resources such as pilots, flight attendants, and ground service staff. The airline actively enhanced its communication and advised passengers to proactively prepare necessary personal documents, complete online check-in procedures, and comply with operational regulations to shorten the time spent on procedures.

Tan Son Nhat International Airport has also implemented plans and coordinated with relevant agencies to cope with congestion and delays during the Lunar New Year holiday. However, the situation still persists.

This year, due to adverse weather conditions, including dense fog in the northern provinces, during the peak Lunar New Year period, travel plans of many passengers were significantly affected. They had to wait for several hours at Tan Son Nhat airport before being able to fly to their hometown as originally scheduled.

According to the forecast of the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, this weather phenomenon may continue until the 8th of February (29th day of Lunar New Year), especially during the nighttime and early morning hours.

In addition, the infrastructure of Tan Son Nhat airport has been overloaded compared to its design capacity for many years. It has the highest takeoff and landing frequency in the country (approximately 260,000 takeoffs and landings per year). By the end of 2023, the number of passengers passing through the airport reached 42 million (1.5 times higher than the design capacity), indicating the overload of infrastructure and operational capacity.

In light of this situation, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has issued instructions requesting airlines to monitor weather conditions closely, coordinate closely with airports, the Air Traffic Flow Management Center, the Regional Flight Management Company, and aviation service providers at airports to develop appropriate operational plans; provide timely and prepared alternative plans to serve passengers in case of operational changes.

“Support passengers to the maximum extent as stipulated by the law in case of delays, cancellations, or flight redirections. Airlines shall fully implement the contents of this instruction to foreign airlines that provide wet-leased aircraft services (leasing aircraft with a crew) to them,” emphasized Mr. Dinh Viet Thang, Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam.

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