The e-commerce growth is very apparent within China which has be-come the leader in this new and dynamic product segment. However, just down the road from mainland China lies Vietnam which has also been putting a lot of emphasis and investment on the e-commerce traffic for the future. What’s needed are freighters.
Mekong logistics hub in the planning
Vietnam does not operate its own freighters but carries a lot of cargo in the bellies of their more than 80 wide- and narrow body aircraft. However, it cannot be ruled out that Vietnam will sometime in the near future either invest in freighters or do a deal with another international provider of main deck capacity to carry goods into and out of Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the state-owned national carrier has taken an important first step in this direction by planning a logistics hub in the so-called Mekong Delta city. They have signed up with the Peoples Committee of Can Tho to jointly erect a large logistics centre there specifically for the handling and transport of e-commerce shipments.
Both parties plan to erect the 27-hectare facility quite near to the Can Tho International Airport so that future e-commerce traffic can be speedily handled and flown out of the country or be distributed within Vietnam. It seems that the largest amount of financial investment will come from Vietnam Airlines or their supporting banks. The Can Tho regional government will assist by giving Vietnam Airlines the land at a cheap price as well as helping in planning and operational aspects.
It can be expected that this infrastructure project is highly attractive to all-cargo carriers, acting as pull factor.
Other hubs well on the way
This is not Vietnam Airlines’ first hub creation move. They are already getting logistics hubs into motion in the more northern cities of Hanoi and Da Nang, as well as in Ho Chi Minh city (SGN).
Can Tho Airport is situated south-west of Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam Airlines operates regular flights from there to destinations within Vietnam as well as on international regional routes.
The Vietnamese aviation officials are supporting the move as they also see air freight increasing by between 15% to 20% per annum during the coming years. The so-called online retail business is booming in the country with estimates from some sources showing an almost 30% annual growth picture. By no means as large as the Chinese domestic e-commerce traffic, but one which is also growing in leaps and bounds.
This is where the need for an own international air freight carrier comes in. The growth has to be catered for and Vietnam will not want foreign carriers taking the lion’s share in the future.
Domestic freighter operations are also a must if Vietnam wants to keep abreast of the developing e-commerce market. Surface transport means are restricted mainly to road transport. This becomes more difficult, however, due to growing traffic congestions and the disruption of services by heavy rainfall in the monsoon season.
John Mc Donagh