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Vietnamese at odds on resuming international flights

By Ky Duyen   June 13, 2020 | 12:33 am PT
Vietnamese at odds on resuming international flights
People visit the Saigon Zoo And Botanical Garden in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City on May 24, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Citizens and businesses are divided on the reopening of international flights, with the nays focusing on safety and the ayes seeing growth opportunities.

Some businesses say Vietnam should reopen international air routes only when the pandemic is contained globally, while others see the reopening as an opportunity for economic recovery.

The Vietnamese government is considering the resumption of international flights to destinations that have had no new Covid-19 cases for at least 30 days. Vietnam Airlines and Bamboo Airways have made plans to restart international flights starting July 1 if the government permits.

Tran Le Nguyen, CEO of ice-cream and packaged food producer Kido said that containing the virus should be the top priority, and authorities should only allow international flight resumption if there is no risk of contagion.

While trade does benefit the economy, there is potential in the domestic market, he said. "If a business can take advantage of the domestic market using its knowledge of local consumers, the domestic economy will gradually reboot. Domestic travel will grow, which in turn will benefit the transport and service sectors."

Other businesses expect the resumption will kickstart growth. Mai Kieu Lien, CEO of dairy giant Vinamilk, said that the country cannot not keep closing its borders until there is a vaccine for the virus.

Reopening international air routes will be a bold and positive step, she said, adding it will allow Vietnamese companies to boost exports, she said.

Mai Truong Giang, founder of restaurant chain Otoke Chicken, said that flights resumption is a possibility, but this should only be done with countries and territories that have contained the virus well.

"If both countries can strictly impose safety measures, reopening flights will create opportunities for trade and economic recovery."

In a VnExpress poll of 66,500 online readers, 74 percent said international flights should not be resumed at this time.

Vietnam has suspended international commercial flights since March 25. Foreign arrivals in the first five months fell 49 percent year-on-year to 3.7 million, according to the General Statistics Office.

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