Transport ministry mulls letting the unvaccinated fly

By Doan Loan   October 19, 2021 | 02:00 am PT
Transport ministry mulls letting the unvaccinated fly
A passenger (R) has her body temperature checked at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, October 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
As proposed by the Ministry of Transport, unvaccinated people can fly if they test negative for the coronavirus while the fully-jabbed, from low-risk areas, simply board their flights.

In a proposal submitted to the government, the ministry said passengers from very high- and high-risk areas, including Ho Chi Minh City, would have to show a negative test result before boarding a flight.

Passengers from areas with lower Covid-19 risk levels only need to fulfill one of the three following requests to be eligible to fly: having been fully vaccinated for over 14 days and less than 12 months from the flight departure time, recovered from Covid-19 within the past six months, or tested negative within 72 hours before departure.

The ministry’s proposal followed previous suggestions by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).

The proposal is for the second phase of domestic flight resumption from Oct. 21 and once approved, more specific guidelines would be issued, a ministry representative said Tuesday.

After two months of suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic, flight services were resumed across 19 domestic routes on Oct. 10, with two more added three days later.

Yet in order to fly, all passengers must be fully immunized at least 14 days before travel or have recovered from Covid-19 within the previous six months aside from providing Covid negative results obtained within 72 hours of departure.

Aside from the conditions for passengers, the ministry also proposed the government add more flights on several routes in the second phase, including Hanoi – HCMC, Hanoi – Da Nang, and Da Nang – HCMC.

It wants to raise flights on those routes to six return flights per day at most from Oct. 21 to Nov. 14 and seven return flights per day at most from Nov. 15 to 30.

For other routes, there would be no more than four return flights per day.

For now, airlines have been operating only one daily return flight on each route.

According to ministry data, in the eight days of Oct. 10-17, airlines had reported a low rate of operated flights, at 49 percent due to low booking rates, with many flights receiving next to zero.

Among the reasons for the low booking rates are the low vaccination rate across many localities, especially for families with many members under 18 years old, and the limited number of flights per day.

Bui Doan Ne, general secretary of the Vietnam Aviation Business Association (VABA), said the ministry’s proposal is reasonable and would create favorable conditions for people to resume business activities.

At the same time, it will allow more people that have not been vaccinated to fly and save the cost of testing those already fully immunized.

He suggested more flights be added in the coming time following market demand and that the rule of keeping a safe distance on flights be eliminated to reduce airfares.

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