Transport companies say they are losing millions of dollars due to falling demand caused by novel coronavirus fears. VNS Photo Văn Châu
HCM CITY – Transport companies have been hit hard by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Dương Trí Thành, general director of Vietnam Airlines, said the epidemic has significantly reduced demand on both domestic and international routes.
China routes account for 10 per cent of Vietnam Airlines’ market, he said referring to the cancellation of all flights to that country.
“If the disease continues until July, the company will lose US$196 million. So Vietnam Airlines is forced to find ways to reduce costs and maximise efficiency.”
After authorities advised the public not to gather in public to avoid the risk of COVID-19 infection, trains and buses have complained about a sharp drop in the number of passengers.
Phùng Thị Lý Hà, a spokesperson for the Hà Nội Railway Transport Joint Stock Company, said six trains have stopped running to reduce losses.
The continued closure of schools, universities and colleges has seen many people who went home for Tết (the Lunar New Year) cancel their return tickets. The Hà Nội and Sài Gòn railway companies are worried about losses in the vicinity of VNĐ 43 billion ($1.8 million).
Many tours and festivals have been cancelled, leading to a 70 per cent reduction in the number of passengers travelling by road, Đỗ Văn Bằng, general director of Sao Việt Transport Company, said.
If the epidemic continues uncontrolled, his company would consider cutting services and staff, he said.
Phan Tuấn Linh, general director of Quy Nhơn Seaport JSC said sea transport is no exception, and the losses in less than a month have topped millions of dollars as shipping companies have curtailed their China operations.
Normally his company has 12-13 ships going to China every month to pick up and supply goods, but since the outbreak only seven are plying, he said.
The volume of goods has also dropped dramatically to a mere 30 per cent of that of the comparable period last year, according to the T.S Line Sea Transport Company.
Before the epidemic breakout the Quy Nhơn Seaport remained open all 30 days in a month, but now opens for only 20 days.
In January the cargo volume handled by the port was 100,000 tons, 10-15 per cent below target, Linh said.
As of February 11 there were 43,098 cases of infection globally and 1018 deaths, 1016 in mainland China and one each in the Philippines and Hong Kong.
The Ministry of Health said a three-month-old baby in Vĩnh Phúc Province’s Bình Xuyên District was the 15th and latest case of infection in Việt Nam. – VNS