Air China Cargo will launch all-cargo service to the Vietnamese market in the third quarter, according to Titus Diu, the carrier’s chief operating officer. The service will be combined on a flight to Singapore, with a routing from Shanghai to Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City and back to Shanghai.
“This is part of a network expansion plan to strengthen Air China Cargo’s presence in regional markets,” he declared.
The Chinese carrier joins a number of operators that have pushed into Vietnam this year. Earlier this year, Saudi Airlines Cargo launched twice-weekly B747F to Ho Chi Minh City, and Emirates launched daily passenger flights between its home base and Ho Chi Minh City in early June. Air Hong Kong recently began five flights per week into Vietnam on behalf of DHL. Not to be left behind, Asiana Cargo intends to start freighter service to Hanoi this summer, according to Kee Chul, the Korean carrier’s senior vice president of cargo sales. It probably will fly the Hanoi-Seoul route twice a week with a B767-300 freighter.
Migration of production out of China is a major engine of Vietnam’s growth. This development has been most pronounced in the garment sector, where most large producers have moved part of their production from China to Vietnam.
But the increase in Vietnamese cargo is not without challenges. According to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, creaking airport infrastructure is a growing headache for aviation in Southeast Asia, particularly in light of the $47 billion worth of aircraft on order from carriers from the region for the next ten years. AAPA officials warned this spring that Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airport has been struggling with passenger volumes twice the maximum of its designed capacity; Bangkok Suvarnabhumi has been running over capacity barely six years after it opened. Several other airports are sorely stretched to meet projected throughput volumes.