Vietnam rushes for new north-south air path as traffic grows

Thanh Nien News

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An air traffic control tower stands behind a walkway at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. Photo: Bloomberg An air traffic control tower stands behind a walkway at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. Photo: Bloomberg

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Vietnamese agencies plan to launch a new flight path connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as increasing air traffic on the country's busiest route may cause strain and congestion, the government's website has reported.
The new path will run parallel but 30 kilometers above the existing one, it said, citing the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam's chief Lai Xuan Thanh.
Once open, it will serve northbound fights from Ho Chi Minh City while the current route will be reserved for the opposite direction.
Air travel demand between the two biggest cities has been increasing at a fast pace. Three local carriers, Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet and Jetstar, schedule around 90 flights between the cities every day. 
The north-south path is also used by services linking the two cities with other major cities, including Hue and Da Nang. The combined air traffic on the path amounts to 70 percent of air traffic in the country. 
The path will get even busier in the coming years, given that domestic air traffic grows 8-10 percent every year, and that Vietnam is a gateway of Asia-Pacific whose air traffic is forecast to see a three-fold increase over the next 14 years, the authority said.
Besides the new route, Vietnam will also have to study to optimize other flight paths within its airspace so airlines can save fuel and travel time, Thanh was quoted as saying.
While Vietnam's air transport system is nearly unchanged over the past decades, air traffic has grown fast from dozens of flights a day in the 1980s to more than 1,250 flights traveling through its airspace daily, according to the aviation authority.
Air controllers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City flight information regions, where a total of 60 air routes are host, have to deal with an average of 30-35 flights per hour. Such a high frequency implies risks to flight safety, especially during bad weather conditions, it said.

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