Foreigners' travel plans hit as Vietnam suspends domestic flights

By Nguyen Quy   September 8, 2021 | 08:04 pm PT
Foreigners' travel plans hit as Vietnam suspends domestic flights
Foreigners wait at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport for coronavirus tests, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
With domestic flights suspended due to the Covid threat, many foreigners living outside major cities have had their travel plans upended.

Wayne Watts, an Australian living in Da Nang, had booked a Vietnam Airlines ticket to Hanoi on September 7 for catching an onward flight the same day to the U.S. for work.

But last week the airline informed him his flight had been canceled.

"I knew the pandemic situation in Vietnam turned complicated but many people still have personal jobs to deal with and they need a flight to travel between localities," he told VnExpress International.

All public transport has in fact been suspended and he had to cancel his travel plans. "If I hire a private car, it would cost me up to VND15 million ($660) and it is not a smart choice for now."

Martin Well, a Briton living in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, also needed to fly to Hanoi for paperwork at his embassy in preparation for his marriage with a Vietnamese woman.

He said: "My wife is five months pregnant. We need to go to the British embassy in Hanoi to apply for a single status certificate so that we could get the marriage certificate. We need this to live together as our baby is to come in January."

"I totally understand Covid is terrible and messed up plans for all of the world but I don’t know how to contact my embassy to deal with my personal issues."

Bunso Ako, a Filipino living in Da Nang, said he planned to visit Hanoi on September 11 for visa and work issues.

"I heard again from other foreigners that all domestic passenger flights had been canceled due to the pandemic situation. I called Vietnam Airlines to confirm and yes, it is true.

"I don't want to hire a private car because it is very expensive now. I only hope flights or trains will soon resume."

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) on August 30 instructed airlines to stop selling tickets on domestic flights until further notice and refund customers who have bought tickets.

Airlines now only operate flights carrying goods and passengers involved in Covid-related work.

However, international commercial flights carrying passengers to the U.S. and some Asian and European destinations are still allowed with reduced services.

Vietnam closed its borders and canceled all international flights in March last year, and has since allowed only certain categories of visitors with strict Covid-19 quarantine requirements.

Vo Huy Cuong, deputy head of the CAAV, said if the pandemic is brought under control by the end of this month, regular domestic flights could resume.

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