Reuters reports that Vietnam Airlines will indefinitely suspend scheduled flights between Hanoi and Moscow from March 25. The decision has been taken to review the procedures, requirements and regulations for ongoing flight operations in Russia.
Tourism in decline
The suspension of services and growing international sanctions against Russia will likely hit Vietnam’s recovering tourism industry hard. The two countries maintain close diplomatic relations, Vietnam has yet to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Between 2009 and 2019, Russian tourism to Vietnam increased by 38%. In 2019 alone, more than 650,000 Russians visited the Southeast Asian nation. As reported by First line; Nguyen Khac Giang, an analyst at Victoria University of Wellington, noted that the decline is a “big blow” to destinations that have become popular with Russian visitors, including Phu Quoc, notably Phan Thiet and Nha Trang.
3.5% of all international tourists to Vietnam come from Russia, with several resorts specifically targeting Russian holidaymakers. Photo: Boeing
The pressure is being felt across Southeast Asia, with other popular destinations experiencing the same decline in tourism. the South China Morning Post reported that Thailand has seen more visitors from Russia than anywhere else since reopening to international travelers in 2021, with more than 40,000 arrivals in the first six weeks of 2022 alone.
Talk to local media Chairman of the Phuket Tourism Association, Bhummikitti Raktaengam, noted that the number of Russian tourists arriving in Phuket had fallen by 75% since early March.
Hannah Pearson, founding partner of Kuala Lumpur-based tourism consultancy Pear Anderson, spoke of a worrying future for Russian tourism:
“These uncertainties may make tourism stakeholders in the region nervous about welcoming Russian tourists, worried about whether payments will be made – and tourism boards will certainly think twice before targeting the Russian outbound market. in a close future”
A combination of airspace restrictions and the seizure of leased planes at foreign airports has led Russian airlines to suspend all international flights. Earlier this month, mass cancellations by flag carrier Aeroflot and economic sanctions against Russian banks notably stranded 6,500 Russian holidaymakers in Thailand.
The cancellation of Aeroflot’s international services has stranded thousands of Russian tourists abroad. Photo: Sumit Rehal | single flight
Russia’s impact on Southeast Asia’s tourism woes goes deeper than the decline of Russian holidaymakers. Soaring fuel prices and longer flight times as airlines avoid Russian airspace have led to the cancellation of some services to Asia.
Several airlines have already implemented fuel surcharges; Air France and KLM recently added the charge on long-haul tickets, while Malaysia Airlines’ fare increase is set to begin today.
Finnair suspended flights to some of its Asian destinations, while United had to cancel Newark-Mumbai and Delhi-San Francisco routes due to lack of access to Russian airspace.
While demand for international flights remains relatively weak as some restrictions remain, aviation analyst Brendan Sobie warned that rising costs are likely to deter leisure travelers from long-haul destinations. Sobi noted:
“Another concern is the impact on international passenger demand in some markets, leading to a setback in the overall recovery of international air travel.”
What do you think of Vietnam Airlines’ decision to suspend its Russian routes? Let us know in the comments.
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