Vietnam urged to boost global air connectivity

By Mai Ha, Thanh Nien News

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Passengers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Kha Hoa

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on the Vietnamese government to strengthen the economy through global air connectivity.
“The successful development of aviation will pay big dividends to the Vietnamese economy, so it must be treated as a strategic asset and handled correctly,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO at a press conference jointly-held with Vietnam Airlines in Hanoi on Wednesday.
According to IATA, aviation contributes US$6 billion to Vietnam’s GDP and provides over 230,000 jobs. Between 2008 and 2013, Vietnam’s passenger traffic grew by 96 percent.
The association ranked Vietnam the world’s seventh fastest-growing aviation market in 2013-2017.
IATA called on the Vietnamese aviation sector to focus on improving infrastructure, passenger experience and cargo as part of its development strategies. It also called for careful planning and industry consultation in advance of any change to the current structure of Vietnam’s airports.
Tyler identified the implementation of IATA’s Fast Travel program and the easing of visa requirements as key factors to improve passenger experience in Vietnam.
“Every tourist that decides to take a holiday in a neighboring country because of Vietnam’s visa process is a lost economic opportunity. Easing visa requirements can boost tourism,” he said.
He encouraged Vietnam to implement the six Fast Travel initiatives, including self check-in, self-bag tagging, electronic document kiosks, flight rebooking, self-boarding and bag recovery. 
In the Henley & Partners index of Visa restrictions, Vietnam ranked 81st because it extends visa exemptions to just 47 nationalities, compared to Singapore (5th), Malaysia (8th) and Hong Kong (15th).
While air freight accounts for a very small amount of Vietnam’s trade by volume, it represents 25 percent of Vietnam’s trade by value, or $29 billion. E-freight will help to improve the efficiency of Vietnam’s air cargo industry, according to Tyler.
Foreign airline executives attending the conference expressed their hopes that Vietnam would offer incentives for further expanding the business in the country.

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