Tran Phuoc Son, Vice Chairman of the Da Nang People’s Committee and Head of the Routes 2002 Organizing Board, in conversation with Routes.
How has Da Nang International Airport fared through the COVID-19 pandemic?
Since the outbreak around the world, especially in Vietnam, Da Nang International Airport has ceased most international commercial flights. Despite travel restrictions, Da Nang International Airport has succeeded in its top priority—preventing COVID-19. All airports in Vietnam are certified with the Airport Health Accreditation and are committed to high standards of health and safety in COVID-19 prevention in accordance with the global criteria of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
How has the pandemic changed your strategy?
In the new normal, Da Nang International Airport is focused on maintaining and upgrading infrastructure and facilities to optimize its capacity for potential passengers and cargo coming in the future. According to IATA, Da Nang International Airport is capable of accommodating the Boeing 747, 777 and 767-300, as well as the Airbus A300-600 and A320 family aircraft. The airport’s 2023 expansion plan includes a new cargo terminal with capacity of 100,000 tons per year, aiming to become one of largest logistics centers in Vietnam, and growing passenger capacity to 14 million passengers per year. In the period 2025 to 2030, we will build a new passenger terminal.
How quickly is traffic coming back? When does Da Nang Airport expect to reach 2019 traffic levels?
The volume of visitors at the domestic terminal of Da Nang International Airport has recovered quickly, especially in the first five months of 2022. Currently, the average number of domestic passengers is equivalent to the same period in 2019. Regarding passenger volume at the International Terminal, we anticipate the operating capacity to rebound to 2019 levels in 2024. At this moment, there are five airlines operating international flights to Singapore (9X-weekly), South Korea (5X-weekly), Thailand (4X-weekly) and Malaysia (4X-weekly).
What attracts international airlines to Da Nang?
Da Nang is a coastal city with potential and favorable conditions for tourism development. Da Nang is the gateway to Central Vietnam and four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Complex of Hue Monuments, Hoi An Ancient Town, My Son Sanctuary and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Da Nang also has diverse tourism attractions, such as Golden Bridge, Dragon Bridge, Ba Na Hills and the Marble Mountains. Additionally, Da Nang has a modern infrastructure system and is a safe tourism environment. Da Nang is emerging as an attractive, safe and friendly destination. Da Nang International Airport is one of three largest international airports in Vietnam and has the potential to become an international flight hub connecting Asia and the world.
What incentive package, if any, are you offering airlines?
The incentive policy for all airlines, with no end date, is: Discount on air service fees during off-peak hours and supporting advertising activities to promote new routes. For the COVID-19 recovery period (applied until Sept. 30, 2022): Discounts from 10% to 50% on all air service fees; payment extension for airlines for up to three payment periods; and free office space rental for airlines. In addition, airlines relaunching their routes are advertised free of charge on the airport’s LED screens, advertising panels at the airport and enjoy other benefits for certain markets and time periods.
How many airlines are serving Da Nang now and do you expect to add more airlines soon?
There are 10 domestic routes operated by four airlines, including Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, Bamboo Airways and Vietravel Airlines. Five airlines have relaunched four international nonstop routes to Singapore (Singapore Airlines and Jetstar Asia), to Bangkok (Thai Airways and Vietjet), to Kuala Lumpur (Air Asia) and to Seoul Incheon (Vietjet Air). Da Nang expects to have 10 airlines relaunch international routes to Da Nang soon, including Air Seoul, T’Way Air, Vietnam Airlines, Thai AirAsia, Korean Air, Air Busan, Jin Air, Cambodia Angkor Air, Jeju Air and HK Express Airways. Significantly, a new nonstop route between New Delhi and Da Nang operated by Vietjet Air from September 2022 is expected to kick off a new potential tourist market and facilitate the tourism recovery in Da Nang.