Aviation administration renews plea to stop social distancing on aircraft

By Anh Duy, Hoang Nguyen    May 4, 2020 | 08:01 pm PT
Aviation administration renews plea to stop social distancing on aircraft
A Vietnam Airlines plane. Photo by Shutterstock/ngoc tran.
The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam has once again recommended increasing the number of domestic flights and remove distancing restrictions for passengers on aircraft.

It proposed that from May 5 the frequency on the Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh City sector should be increased to 52 flights either way daily from 36 now, and to Da Nang from either city to 20 from 12.

Under the administration's (CAAV) previous proposal that the Transport Ministry approved in late April, such frequencies will be applied from May 16.

Individual airlines should decide the frequency on other routes based on demand, the CAAV said in its latest proposal. "From June airlines should be allowed to begin ticket sales as normal for the approved summer schedule."

The administration has also renewed its plea to lift the distancing restrictions for passengers on aircraft. But oddly it said passengers should continue to keep a minimum distance of one meter from each other before boarding and follow other measures in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Passengers on the plane are currently required to sit one seat apart. Only families and people booking together can sit together. In its previous proposal, submitted just before the April 30 and May 1 holidays, the CAAV had urged the transport ministry to abolish this restriction but the ministry rejected the plea.

The ministry said it is awaiting a response from the National Steering Committee of Covid-19 Prevention to the new CAAV proposals.

During the recent four-day holiday including weekend airlines reported a 70-80 percent load factor on the Hanoi – HCMC route and 60-70 percent on flights to Da Nang.

After canceling or severely curtailing flights on all sectors during the country's April 1-15 social distancing campaign, several airlines started operating more flights between Hanoi and HCMC from April 16.

Vietnam has banned entry by foreign nationals since March 22 with exceptions and conditions, including 14-day quarantining on arrival. Since March 25, international flights have been suspended to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Health Ministry confirmed no fresh Covid-19 cases Tuesday morning, marking the country's 19th straight day without community transmission. Vietnam has recorded 271 coronavirus cases to date, of whom 50 are active infections. Of the 50, 12 are relapses.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit 212 countries and territories, claiming over 252,300 lives.

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