347 Vietnamese fly home on third US repatriation flight

By Nguyen Quy   June 9, 2020 | 03:31 pm GMT+7
347 Vietnamese fly home on third US repatriation flight
A Vietnam Airlines staff assists passengers board the repatriation flight from San Francisco in the U.S., June 8 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Airlines.
Vietnam brought home 347 of its citizens Tuesday on its third repatriation flight from the U.S., the world’s biggest Covid-19 hotspot.

Vietnam Airlines flight VN1 landed at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi Tuesday morning, with passengers onboard including children, students under 18, the elderly, the sick and some tourists with expired visas.

All passengers underwent medical checks before boarding and wore face masks throughout the flight. They submitted health declarations and were quarantined on arrival. Their samples have been taken for testing.

Flying from Hanoi to the San Francisco International Airport to pick the Vietnamese citizens who had gathered there from several states in the U.S., Vietnam Airlines also carried home some American citizens stuck in Vietnam amid ongoing travel restrictions.

This is Vietnam's third repatriation flight from the U.S. as the Covid-19 situation in the country has showed no signs of improvement in infection numbers and fatalities. On May 8, Vietnam Airlines operated the first repatriation flight to and from San Francisco to fly back 343 citizens. A week later, on May 15, it operated the second flight from Washington D.C. with 345 citizens on board.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Category 1 rating to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, meaning it meets safety standards to operate direct flights to the U.S.

Vietnam Airlines got the green light to operate direct flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to several American destinations in September last year. No regular flight under the permit has been scheduled, and the repatriation flights have been the first direct flights operated by a Vietnamese carrier between the two countries.

The U.S. has reported over two million infection cases and 113,061 confirmed deaths. The situation has been compounded by huge protests that have broken out nationwide against police brutality following the death of black man George Floyd who was choked to death as a cop kneeled on his neck, ignoring pleas that he could not breathe.

In the last few months, several special flights have repatriated more than 5,000 Vietnamese from several countries including Canada, France, Japan, Russia, the UAE and the U.S., alongside other Southeast Asian hotspots. Passengers paid their own fares.

Vietnam has gone 54 days without community transmission caused by novel coronavirus. Of the Covid-19 tally of 332, 316 have recovered and 16 patients are active cases, including one British citizen who is recovering after being comatose on intensive life support for more than two months.

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