In the first quarter of 2022, Vietnam Airlines posted a loss of VND2.621 trillion ($112.9 million), putting it at risk of being delisted from the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange in Vietnam.
Before the pandemic, Vietnam Airlines was one of Asia’s fastest growing airlines, operating 61 routes to 33 destinations in 18 countries. Its international network has expanded across Asia, Europe and Australia, with codeshare agreements in 20 North American ports. It operated 134,000 flights, transported 23 million passengers and nearly 346,000 tons of cargo.
In 2019, it had revenue of $4.3 billion and profit of $146.2 million. Also in 2019, the airline group was listed on the stock exchange, with the state holding around 86%, Japan’s ANA Holding 9% and the balance in private hands. Regarding future expansion, Vietnam Airlines said it plans to add 50 narrow-body aircraft in 2021-2025 to the fleet of 101 aircraft it operated at that time.
China is key to regional recovery
Vietnam Airlines is stepping up international flights to Australia and Europe, but needs Asian borders to fully reopen. Photo: Getty Images
However, harsh border closures in Asia, particularly in China, an important source market for Vietnam Airlines, have thrown the airline into dire financial straits. Revenue rebounded, reaching a two-year high of $500 million in the first quarter, up 55% year-on-year and the highest performance since the second quarter of 2020. The downside is that the airline recorded its ninth consecutive quarterly loss, with a total gross loss from product and service sales of approximately $69 million.
From its home base at Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) in Hanoi, Vietnam Airlines operates a fleet of 104 aircraft, with ch-aviation.com data showing that 79 are currently active. Its total fleet consists of 20 Airbus A321-200neos, 48 A321-200s, 14 A350-900s, 11 Boeing 787-9s, four 787-10s and seven ATR72-500s. Rising jet fuel prices added an unexpected $20 million to its operating costs for the quarter, contributing about 29% of the total loss. The airline said its operating results reflected the severe and prolonged impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry, despite the relatively rapid recovery in the domestic market.
The first-quarter loss brought the airlines’ accumulated deficit to about $1.05 billion, some $93 million more than its charter capital. These cumulative losses put its stock market listing under scrutiny. In a recent statement to the State Securities Commission, the airline said it had adopted drastic solutions to minimize the impacts of the pandemic, while taking advantage of the support of its partners to maintain and develop its operations. He added :
“Business activities have gradually stabilized and we are taking the necessary steps for our recovery and development phase in the coming times.”
International services to Australia and Europe are already recovering
For Vietnam Airlines, the Boeing 787 is a key part of its plans to relaunch the international network. Photo: Boeing
The airline also said its international services remained “in limbo”. She proposed that the government raise the price cap for domestic travel and add a fuel surcharge for local routes to cover the spike in fuel prices in recent months. Vietnam Airlines management said the airline could maintain its liquidity until the end of the year depending on the expected recovery of the industry. However, it also sought government support to ensure its liquidity and seeks to accelerate the restructuring of its subsidiaries and associates.
Vietnam Airlines is a solid operator with a modern fleet and a strong national and international network. Its fastest path to sustainable profitability is for China to reopen its borders. By then, he will come back from the difficult situation he is currently facing. Have any of our subscribers traveled with Vietnam Airlines?
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