Vietnam arranges special flights to repatriate citizens

By Nguyen Quy   April 23, 2020 | 03:00 am PT
Vietnam arranges special flights to repatriate citizens
Flight attendants in protective clothes serve Vietnamese citizens on a repatriation flight from Japan on April 22, 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Airlines.
Local carriers are planning 13 special flights in the coming weeks to bring home Vietnamese citizens stranded by travel restrictions.

National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines will deploy 10 flights to repatriate Vietnamese citizens from Canada, France, Japan, Russia, Spain, Thailand, UAE and the U.S.

Budget carrier Vietjet Air will bring home Vietnamese citizens from Singapore and Indonesia in two flights, while Bamboo Airways is scheduled to operate one flight to carry those stuck in the Philippines home.

The passengers will pay their own fares.

Dinh Viet Thang, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), said the flight schedules will be notified to passengers after the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control has approved and concerned countries granted the flight licenses.

In southern Vietnam, the repatriation flights will land at the Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC or Can Tho Airport in the Mekong Delta, and corresponding destinations while in the north are the Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi or Van Don Airport in Quang Ninh Province.

All repatriated passengers will be sent to centralized quarantine for 14 days.

Earlier, after the Tan Son Nhat and Noi Bai airports received a large number of Vietnamese passengers returning home from foreign countries amidst escalating fears over the pandemic, local quarantine facilities were overloaded.

The surge forced the country’s two largest airports to suspend all flights carrying Vietnamese citizens home.

As isolation facility overload lessens, the Vietnamese government is planning to repatriate those Vietnamese abroad wishing to return home. The country has brought home nearly 5,300 Vietnamese from pandemic-hit areas since early February.

Many countries and territories have taken strong measures to fight the pandemic, including blocking entry and refusing transit. Many foreign carriers have stopped or canceled flights, leaving many Vietnamese trapped overseas.

The Vietnamese government is prioritizing bringing home children under 18, the elderly, disadvantaged and the sick.

Starting March 22, Vietnam also suspended entry for all foreign nationals, including those of Vietnamese origin and family members with visa waivers.

Only Vietnamese nationals and foreigners having diplomatic and official passports such as business managers, experts and high-skilled workers will be allowed to enter the country at this time, and all entrants will be quarantined for 14 days.

On Wednesday, 298 Vietnamese, including students and tourists stranded in Japan, flew home on a Vietnam Airlines flight that landed at the Van Don Airport.

Passengers on board were in good health and took Covid-19 tests to ensure they were not infected before boarding. They were quarantined on arrival.

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