Vietjet Air became the first Vietnamese carrier to fly to India

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Vietjet Air became the first Vietnamese carrier to fly to India

Budget carrier Vietjet Air plans to launch direct flights from Hanoi and HCMC to New Delhi this December.

Vietjet Air became the first Vietnamese carrier to fly to India, with its maiden flight leaving for New Delhi from HCMC on December 6.

There are four flights a week in either direction on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, the budget carrier said in a release on Monday.

The first flight from Hanoi to the Indian capital left on December 7. It is a thrice-weekly service on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

For decades airlines in the two countries disregarded the other market, but last month Indian carrier IndiGo launched direct flights from the eastern Indian city of Kolkata to HCMC and Hanoi, the first ever direct flights between the two countries.

Randir Brar of Indian travel agency Destinos India told VnExpress that the number of Indian visitors to Vietnam could see a surge following the launch of the direct flights.

“The direct air routes will help cut traveling time between the two countries from 15 to six hours, making it easier for Indians to travel to Vietnam.”

Vietjet had announced plans for a HCMC-New Delhi service in July last year, but they failed to materialize.

India is one of the fastest growing outbound tourism markets in the world with around 25 million Indians traveling abroad every year now. The World Tourism Organization has forecast that the number of Indian tourists going abroad will reach about 50 million by 2020.

But the number visiting Vietnam is dwarfed by the number of visitors from countries like China and South Korea. Just 130,000 Indians visited Vietnam last year even as neighboring Thailand received 1.5 million. China and South Korea are Vietnam’s two biggest feeder markets, sending 4.9 million and 3.4 million visitors to the country last year.

Vietnamese ambassador to India, Pham Sanh Chau, said the long flight time, inconvenient routes and high costs have been the main reasons for few Indian tourists traveling to Vietnam.

The launch of direct flights is a great opportunity to promote bilateral tourism cooperation in the context of Vietnam looking for ways to diversify its tourism markets to reduce dependence on Chinese tourists, Chau said.

Vietnam is emerging as a favorite destination for Indian tourists, with their numbers rising by 39 percent in the first 11 months of this year. Last year, the year-on-year growth was a whopping 30 percent.

Vietnam first allowed foreign tourists to apply for a visa online in February 2017, starting with 40 countries including China, South Korea and the U.S. In December that year six more were added to the list, including Australia and India.

India too has become a popular travel choice for Vietnamese tourists in recent years. Last year the number of Vietnamese traveling there was more than 31,000, up 32 percent from a year earlier.

India, known for the Taj Mahal, is also home to famous Buddhist temples, including the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment, making it a favored spiritual destination for many Vietnamese. India is also a leading destination for cultural and medical tours.

Vietnam now has six domestic carriers, namely Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet, Jetstar Pacific, Vietnam Air Services Company (VASCO), Bamboo Airways, and newly-licensed Vietstar Airlines, a military-run company.