No consensus in Vietnam on resuming international flights

By Doan Loan   August 21, 2020 | 09:00 pm PT
No consensus in Vietnam on resuming international flights
An aircraft seen on the runway of Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Experts are unable to agree on whether international flights should resume along with safety measures as the Covid-19 outbreak continues.

The Vietnam Aviation Business Association last week called on the government to resume flights to countries that have contained the pandemic, and allow foreign tourists entry if they meet pandemic prevention requirements.

Deputy chairman of the association, Bui Doan Ne, said aviation is a catalyst for economic growth, and there are destinations that have high demand for travel to and from Vietnam such as Guangzhou (China), Tokyo (Japan) and Seoul (South Korea).

A gradual resumption would help airlines survive and keep their employees, he said. "The safety of passengers and crew members must be top priority when resuming flights."

The International Civil Aviation Organization has provided guidelines for traveling amid the pandemic, and Vietnam should issue its own regulations, he said.

Economist Le Dang Doanh concurred, saying resumption of flights would help the tourism and hospitality sectors, which have suffered because of the pandemic, recover.

Many foreign business executives also want to travel to Vietnam, and controlling the outbreak must go along with reviving the economy, he said.

"The government should gradually restart flights with safety measures."

To start with Vietnam could allow three flights a week on one or two routes to assess the situation, and charge travelers quarantine fees, he said.

Each province and city could designate three or four hotels for quarantine, while business people with limited time could furnish medical certificates before departure and be tested on landing in Vietnam, Doanh added.

Nguyen Si Dung, former deputy director of the National Assembly Office, agreed, saying, "We cannot keep our doors closed forever" and flights should be resumed so that businesses could recover.

A spokesperson for budget airline Vietjet said aviation companies have been the worst affected amid the pandemic, and the government should allow regular services to restart to countries that have contained Covid-19.

But another economist, Ngo Tri Long, warned it might be too soon to resume flights, pointing out that the lack of strict control over illegal immigration is possibly the cause of the Covid-19 resurgence Da Nang and some countries have seen.

Domestic infections of the pandemic has resurfaced in Vietnam since July 25. The country’s Covid-19 tally has risen to 1,009 with 25 deaths.

For now only experts and businesspeople should be allowed to enter Vietnam, and international flights should only be resumed when countries stop recording new cases, he added.

Of some 64,500 readers who voted in a survey on the Vietnamese edition of VnExpress this month, 78 percent rejected resumption of international flights for the moment.

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