Tuesday, May 19, 2009

International air carriers opting out of Da Nang

DA NANG — The central city of Da Nang is falling out of favour as a destination for international carriers due to low demand, with only Silk Air’s Singapore service still in place.

Other airlines have cancelled their services to Hong Kong, Seoul, Bangkok, and Taipei.

Korean Asiana Airlines scrapped its Seoul flights after a short run last year when they were poorly patronised.

Thailand’s PB Air, that was flying Bangkok-Da Nang-Seam Reap three times a week, recently called a halt after almost three years.

"Despite low fares, the international flights attracted just a handful of passengers, causing airlines great losses," a Da Nang Airport executive, who declined to identify himself, said.

Thai Airways had flown to Da Nang for a long time until it could no longer afford the loss, he added.

Tourist potential

Located in a region blessed with stunning natural beauty and a concentration of world heritage sites like Hue, Hoi An, My Son, and Phong Nha-Ke Bang, the city of Da Nang has great tourism potential.

"The travel industry should make clear commitments to promote tourism in the region so that airlines can maintain their services," Tran Van Minh, chairman of the city People’s Committee, said.

He said international flights are very crucial to the city’s development and ability to attract investment.

Deputy Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism Tran Chien Thang said his ministry plans to advertise the central region abroad and help Da Nang develop its tourism attractions.

Lai Xuan Thanh, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Administration of Viet Nam, said airlines agreeing to use Da Nang Airport are offered incentives like a waiver of certain airport fees.

"The Da Nang aviation market has great potential to become a competitive destination," Vietnam Airlines general director Pham Ngoc Minh said.

The national flag carrier is soon set to operate connecting flights from Ha Noi and HCM City to Da Nang for flights arriving from Japan, he said.

"We will also have chartered flights from Japan to Da Nang by the end of this year, and direct commercial flights next year," he added. — VNS

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