Source: Vientiane Times
Lao Airlines and the Northern Bus Station in Vientiane do not plan to make any changes to their services or ticket prices in a bid to attract customers and lure them away from travel on the Laos-China railway.
At present, more people are turning up at railway stations than at airports and bus stations, with train travel being cheaper than flights and much faster than travel by bus.
Director of Lao Airlines’ Commercial Department, Mr Noudeng Chanthaphasouk, told Vientiane Times the opening of the Laos-China would not have much effect on the airline’s operations, adding that people were wanting to use trains right now because it was something new and the trains were fast.
Lao Airlines has few customers these days after cutting flights because of the Covid-19 outbreak, but people are continuing to travel by air because it is fast and easy, Mr Noudeng said.
The national flag carrier has no plans to run a promotion campaign to attract more customers. However, if demand slumps the airline will cut the number of scheduled flights. But if passenger numbers return to previous levels, the number of flights will be increased, he added.
Describing the situation at the Northern Bus Station, an official in charge of operations, who asked not to be named, said customer numbers had dropped dramatically because of the Covid outbreak.
Fewer people were making trips to the provinces and those who could afford it were now travelling by train.
However, the bus station still has regular customers and is open for service despite the large number of people preferring to make journeys by train. There are no plans to reduce ticket prices to attract more customers because fuel is expensive, the bus station official said.
People turned up in droves at Vientiane train station last weekend when the Laos-China railway officially opened for service on December 4.
Many people are keen to take a ride on the train and sample the novel experience of travelling rapidly through the Lao countryside on an elevated track.
The opening of the 426-km railway is a milestone for Laos and should be a game changer as the country strives to become an integral part of regional supply chains and integrate itself economically with the rest of the world.
Built according to Chinese technical standards, the railroad connects Vientiane with Kunming in China over a distance of 1,035 kilometres. Trains can travel at a top speed of 160 kilometres per hour.
This means the journey time between Vientiane and Kunming is just 10 hours, including the time taken for customs clearance.